As the NBA considers options for a potential return, Matisse Thybulle put the suspension of his rookie season amid the coronavirus pandemic into perspective.
“As much as I want to say basketball is the most important thing in the world, it’s not when you are talking about people’s lives and people’s health,” the 76ers reserve guard said Wednesday. “The small amount of control that we see that we have is scary.
“So I think trying to focus on controlling what we can control as most people are doing, self-quarantining, I think that has been like my number one focus and I hope it is for most people because, NBA season or not, it doesn’t matter unless you are healthy."
The 23-year-old will tell you that this pandemic with around 1,446,500 confirmed cases and 83,100 deaths globally is eye-opening not just for him but for a lot of people. In the United States, there have been around 400,000 confirmed cases with 12,900 deaths.
He’ll tell you how normal lives have been disrupted, greatly.
“We don’t have the luxury of being able to go outside and go to the grocery store and be comfortable even,” Thybulle said. “I think having everyone’s world be shaken up so much has brought a lot of insight to just what’s really important."
But Thybulle is doing his best to take the minds of his 116,000-plus TikTok followers off the pandemic.
In his TikToks shot in his Philadelphia apartment, he can be seen doing everything from shooting 9% from the field on a Nerf hoop, taking ‘Roomba’ for a walk in his apartment and “feeding” it, to doing a dribbling drill in his Sixers uniform.
They’re all things that Thybulle wouldn’t have done months ago.
He had been watching TikTok videos for a while but never created any of his own. He and his friends had talked about doing it but would always back out.
“If I ever thought about doing it myself, I always said, ‘Nah, nah, I can’t do that,’ ” he said. “That’s lame. But once we got in the situation we find ourselves into now, I was like, I really have nothing better to do. I have no excuse. I might as well try it. If it flops, it flops.”
Instead, it became a success.
In addition to experiencing TikTok stardom, Thybulle has talked to family members and friends whom he normally wouldn’t have time to chat with during the season. Self-isolating, mostly in his apartment, has also enabled the avid reader to read quite a bit. Big on meditation, Thybulle is reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
He has had a lot of time since the NBA regular season was suspended March 11 after Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Commissioner Adam Silver announced the next day that play would be halted for at least 30 days.
The new expectation is the NBA might not resume until July, if at all. Silver told TNT’s Ernie Johnson on Monday that there won’t be enough information to make a decision until May at the earliest.
To keep in shape, Thybulle is working out with weights provided by the Sixers, doing yoga, and running while practicing social distancing. He hasn’t been able to play an actual game or get an on-court workout. However, he does some form shooting with a basketball while lying on his bed.
“I think to a certain degree with staying physically prepared, you stay mentally prepared and vice versa,” Thybulle said. “I think the meditation and mindfulness stuff I am doing now will serve me a lot once this season does come back.”
But he’s realistic.
Thybulle knows that players can’t replicate an NBA game or NBA intensity within their homes. There’s going to be a readjustment period when and if players return this season.