Ten days before Christmas, Alvin Gentry woke up nervously at 6am to a call from the Sacramento Kings coach. 19th
Although he was vaccinated and boosted, he understandably made three years under 70 more nervous.
“I did a PCR test and our trainer called me around 6am and said, ‘Hey, you’re positive,'” Gentry told The Undefeated. “Of course that’s one word you don’t want to hear when you talk about COVID… is it positive? I was very nervous because of my age. Hey, except pop [Gregg Popovich, who is 72], I am the oldest coach in the league. So you’re thinking, ‘Wow, I’m 67. I just tested positive. What is that supposed to do? ‘
“I was nervous as hell because anything about it when you’re my age puts you in a frightening position. “How should I react? What will the symptoms be? How intense will the symptoms be? ‘ So all of these things put you in a situation where you say, “Wow”. “
The majority of the 200 NBA players enrolled in the NBA’s health and safety protocols this season due to COVID-19 did so in December after the Omicron variant arrived in North America, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes previously reported. NBA stars like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant and Trae Young have been quarantined this season, forcing teams to fill lists of players with varying levels of experience.
In the NBA’s race to survive the Omicron surge in COVID-19
Lost in all the talk of eliminated NBA players are coaches who have also been put in logs, including Gentry, Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers), Billy Donovan (Chicago Bulls), Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns), Chauncey Billups (Portland Trail Blazers). ), Rick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers), and Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder).
“I had a slight sore throat,” said Gentry. “A 1 on a scale from 1 to 10, but I kept waiting. Will I wake up tomorrow and will I feel awful? Or do I wake up tomorrow and there will be more symptoms? So all of these things keep me busy. Fortunately for me it worked out in the end. “
Gentry said that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski publicly circulated it not long after receiving his unfortunate news. Shortly thereafter, his worried sons, Ryan and Jack, both called nervously.
“The difficult thing is that I got a call from my son [Jack] and he said, ‘Dad, I got a notification on twitter telling me you were positive.’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ They don’t give you a chance to call your family or anything. It just happens. But they just wanted to know that I was fine. But it goes around everywhere. I have [Jack] currently in isolation, he is a manager at USC, for the USC basketball team. …
“I literally felt good. I literally felt nothing, except a little sore throat. “
The timing for Gentry got worse because he only served as the Kings interim head coach for a few weeks after Luke Walton was released from duties after more than two seasons.
Replacing a “best friend” in Walton wasn’t easy for Gentry, but he got his blessing. The Kings (14-21) have left 8-10 since Gentry’s promotion on Nov. 21.
“It makes sense in that it gives you the opportunity to coach,” said Gentry. “But in the circumstances where a best friend loses his job and you benefit from it, you would never want to do it. I’ve been in so many situations that I’ve been on the other side. I was on this side. And it’s not a great feeling. It wouldn’t feel great for anyone considering the friendship one would have with this person. “
“They stand for something”: NBA players make Alvin Gentry proud on a historic night
Gentry said the Kings did everything in their power to make him comfortable during the quarantine so that he could still make a name for himself as head coach.
King’s assistant and former star guard Doug Christie stepped in as his replacement. Gentry made numerous Zoom and FaceTime calls with his coaching staff and players, including during games. It also meant a lot to Gentry that he received text messages and calls from most of his players and coaching staff. The kings also sent food and other special items to Gentry’s house, which he held in high esteem.
“I was involved in talking about rotations and Doug did a really good job,” said Gentry. “I wasn’t far from it.”
Gentry, who said he faced only mild symptoms, approved the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Dec. 25. He also told The Undefeated that he received a Food and Drug Administration-approved monoclonal antibody injection to aid the healing process.
Gentry firmly believes that all Americans should be vaccinated and boosted. For skeptics, he offers a message that he has given his own players.
“I walk around and am living proof that it works,” said Gentry. “I was lucky enough to have no symptoms, nothing. And so, I feel damn happy, but I’ve had great people taking care of me and getting a booster shot. And I know what people are saying, ‘I don’t know what’s in there.’ But we have really smart people who do it.
“It makes sense to have the vaccine and the booster. The thing I tell all the guys in my situation [with the Kings], in our building, is that everyone in our building had the vaccine and the vaccinations and the booster. There is not a single person who can grow an extra ear or an extra eye. “
Gentry – who has a career record of 518 to 605 with the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, LA Clippers, Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, and Kings – has a young roster in Sacramento with players ages 20 to 30. Gentry is old enough to be her grandfather or even great-grandfather. How does Gentry relate to its players?
Having two sons in their early twenties helped him connect with today’s players. Gentry also loves hip hop music and is a huge fan of rapper Drake. In fact, Gentry enjoyed a Drake concert he attended with his sons in New Orleans when he was the Pelicans head coach. He can also recite the lyrics to “Life Is Good,” Drake’s song with Future.
“I have a 21 and a 23 year old. I can still throw away a couple of Drake lines, ”said Gentry. “I still have a little game with listening to their music and understanding everything that is going on. And that’s how it keeps you young I guess. And I think where I am right now in my career and stuff, I’m trying to give them words of wisdom, not just the basketball part of it, but life in general.
“I feel great. I always said 60 is the new 40. Now 67 is the new 41, I guess. But I feel good about everything. And I think we have some good young pieces here and we are going to have more Adding pieces and I think that’s a good challenge for us. “
Alvin Gentry (right) and Tristan Thompson (left) of the Sacramento Kings during a game against the Orlando Magic on December 8th at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Ned Dishman / NBAE via Getty Images
Kings Center Tristan Thompson said, “He’s more like damn close 42. He’s like one of us. He understands our language and that’s why the players like him. He is years older, but he still knows how to get in touch with us. “
Gentry has also bonded with NBA players over the years through his straightforwardness, sense of humor, and solid communication. His ambition is to win the ownership and front office of the Kings and to prove that he deserves to be the full-time head coach until the end of the season. It’s a daunting challenge as Sacramento hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2006.
Thompson, the oldest player on the team at 30, believes Gentry is a good fit with the Kings.
“Alvin is great for this position,” said Thompson. “I’m at four [interim] Coaches hired mid-season. … you need someone who brings fresh energy. And you know [Gentry], he is an experienced trainer, but not a sergeant. You don’t want that now. Everyone tries to find out.
“He said, ‘I’m not going to give you long speeches. Just go out there and f-ing hard play. This is what matters at the end of the day when changing coaches. Just go out there and play hard. As long as you play hard, you can live with the results. “
Time will tell if Gentry is still the Kings head coach until he was 68 on November 5, 2022. Whether the Shelby, North Carolina native is with Sacramento or elsewhere, he will always appreciate his time in the NBA, which began in 1989 as an assistant coach to Larry Brown with the San Antonio Spurs.
“Look at how the league in general has grown and what [former NBA commissioner] David Stern did this league and how he made it so global, ”said Gentry. “I remember a trip to Africa [with] me, Wes Unseld and Alex English and David Stern went. And we went to South Africa. We had dinner with Nelson Mandela. We did things you could only dream of as a kid from Shelby, North Carolina.
“It was absolutely wonderful. You will never hear me say anything bad about the NBA and what it has done for me and the progress the league has made in general. “
Marc J. Spears is the lead NBA writer for The Undefeated. He used to be able to dive in on you, but he hasn’t done it in years and his knees still hurt.
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