Steve Clifford, other coaches warned about mask usage amid NBA's latest COVID-19 issues

Ryan Young
·3 min read

The NBA is dealing with a sea of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks this week, something that prompted the league to issue new, stricter protocols to help curb the spread and keep the season running.

One of those changes includes stricter mask usage during games — something plenty of coaches, including Orlando Magic boss Steve Clifford, need to do a better job of.

Steve Clifford: ‘I’ve got to do better’ with my mask

Clifford, who is in his third season with the Magic, said he was one of several coaches who got a call from the league warning them about keeping his mask on during games — something he has admittedly been bad at doing.

His answer, he told The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds, was simple.

“Yes sir,” he replied on the call.

There have been 13 total games postponed already this season due to the coronavirus, all but one of which came in the last week. The Washington Wizards had two more of their games postponed on Friday, too, after several players have reportedly tested positive.

The NBA’s new health and safety protocols that were issued on Tuesday include keeping players and coaches at their homes or hotels when they’re not playing, minimizing non-game contact with others and wearing face masks on the benches.

That, though, hasn’t been easy for coaches — especially when they’re trying to get a message across in a huddle during a timeout.

“Sometimes I’m in the huddle or on the floor, and I’m doing all kinds of things to try to keep my mask on [and] let guys hear me, and after the third time they say, ‘Coach, I can’t hear what you’re saying,’ you try to pull [the mask] down real quick,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said, via The Associated Press. “But I’ve got to try to limit that the best I can. And sometimes in the heat of battle, it’s difficult.”

There were more than 238,000 new cases of the coronavirus recorded on Thursday alone, according to The New York Times, and just shy of 4,000 deaths. The country recorded more than 4,400 deaths on Tuesday alone, too, a record.

Those numbers, Clifford said, make it easy to support any new changes in the league’s health and safety protocols.

"Look at our country. I think we had three days ago over 4,000 deaths,” Clifford said, via The Associated Press. “So it makes great sense that we're tightening things up here until we get past this.”

So if that means wearing a different mask or having to work harder to make sure his players can hear him, Clifford is going to do it.

“I’m going to do better, no matter what,” he said, via The Associated Press. “I have some masks that are easier for the guys to hear than others. I’m just going to wear the right mask. I’ve got to do better.”

Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford
The NBA tightened health and safety protocols this week while several teams are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks. (Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

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