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Pau Gasol on Isolation: “We’re In This Together”

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A former Trail Blazers forward addresses social isolation and COVID-19 in the Players’ Tribune

NBA: Rising Stars-World at U.S. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Pau Gasol, with the team for a (drive-thru) cup of coffee earlier this season, wrote a Players’ Tribune article has addressing his fans and the NBA regarding isolation and COVID-19. His basic take-away: “We’re in this together”.

After addressing the need for isolation, empathizing with those affected or at risk from the virus, and crediting the difficulty of being apart at times like this, Gasol reflects on his homeland:

A recent story from Spain really shook me. In one of the busiest parts of Madrid, there’s a shopping center called Palacio de Hielo (Ice Palace). It’s a big mall with shops and restaurants, and the main attraction is an Olympic-sized ice skating rink. Today, though, the mall is empty, as Spaniards are under a country-wide order to remain in their homes. The skating rink, meanwhile, has been converted into a makeshift morgue. Think about that: An ice-skating rink….. is now a morgue. In the last few days, Madrid announced it was converting a second building into a makeshift morgue. That’s how much life has changed in Spain in such a short time.

Imagine, for a moment, an NBA arena in your city being converted into a morgue or an overflow hospital. Imagine not just a social-distancing advisory, but a law requiring people to remain indoors. In Spain, like in Italy, family members aren’t allowed to visit their dying relatives — to say a last goodbye — for fear of spreading the virus. Women giving birth can’t have loved ones at their bedside in the hospital. Weddings are being canceled. Burials are happening without attendees. This is a different kind of isolation.

He also talks about the economic fallout of the pandemic and advocates unity, even egalitarianism:

Much of our workforce is facing a financial nightmare. Entire economies are suffering as a result. It should make us uncomfortable, for example, to recognize that in America, more than three in ten adults have no savings at all. Many of those people — right now — are delivering our food, taking care of our sick, shipping our supplies, picking our crops. Over the last few days, some workers have begun to strike in an effort to bring attention to the hazardous conditions many jobs suddenly entail. And here’s the thing: Your neighbor’s job directly affects your job. Their quality of life affects yours, and vice versa. A contagious disease doesn’t judge the value of a victim by social status, income, race, religion or sexual orientation. Our response to it shouldn’t either.

Now is our chance to recommit to those ideals.

The article covers much more ground and does it in eloquent style. It’s well worth a read.