While the 2019-20 NBA regular season remains on hold, Los Angeles Lakers General Manager, Rob Pelinka keeps a famous Nelson Mandela quote in his mind.
"Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.'"
In a video conference with reporters, Pelinka continuously circled back to the health and safety of the public before mentioning sport, though, he does believe the eventual resumption of the NBA could help with the healing process for a world suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those around the world in cities that are having the hardest times. We certainly hope at some point as Mr. Mandela says that sports can come back and be a beacon of hope to get all of us through this," Pelinka said.
"I think we all need it, we all want it, it does bring hope to us. When the government health officials and the leagues feel like it's safe for our fans and our players we look forward to that platform hopefully being a part of that healing as a result of everything we are going through."
LeBron James is a human poster printer 🖨 #BestOfLakersPacers pic.twitter.com/RrniH0fWLD- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 1, 2020
As the world transitions to communication through digital mediums, Pelinka has learned that nothing beats good old fashioned face-to-face interaction.
"I think the one thing all of us have learned is that as good as Skype and FaceTime and Zoom and Houseparty and all these apps are, there's no substitute for in person contact and being around a table with people, being on the court with the guys in a huddle."
"There's no substitute for that, but all of us have made the choice to be smart and follow the guidelines of what the government officials are telling us to do, so with that we have to do the best we can with the resources we have."
While the NBA season has ground to a halt, the work can't stop for Pelinka, the Lakers front office or coaching staff, as they have to stay prepared for every possible scenario that could unfold.
"For the coaching staff I know they are studying extra game film, they are getting prepared for if we get the green light at some point what would playoff matchups look like and how do we get ahead of our preperation there."
The same applies for the playing group, who no longer have access to the Lakers practice facility and instead must find alternative ways to stay in shape at home, though, Pelinka is quick to add that there has been an eagerness from the roster to stay connected, and group workouts have become a staple.
ANTHONY DAVIS. TOTAL ECLIPSE. pic.twitter.com/ojQtWfCKoE- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 2, 2020
"We've worked hard with our strength and conditioning staff to make sure they have fitness bundles delivered to them where we can do group workouts. This was a team that loved being together whether it was on the bench or on the bus or in the locker room, these guys just had a great chemistry."
"They have tried to stay as connected as possible in different ways including working out together virtually. We have to be creative and of course the health of everyone is in our minds but at the same time at a micro level we want to be prepared if we get the call that we can finish the season."
As it currently stands, the Lakers hold the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and the second best overall record at 49-14, just 3.0 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA's best mark. As one of the favourites to take out the title should games resume, Pelinka remains hopeful the ball can once again be tipped.
"I can say definitively that all of us hope there is a way to have an NBA champion crowned. I think that's the whole world and sports fans and NBA fans hope, that we can find a way to have a champion for the 2020 season. We will only do that if the health officials and Adam Silver and the league and everything think that is the best thing for the safety of the players."
"If we get the green light to play there a lot of internal discussions going on just about what it would look like in terms of the ramp up to get back in shape and in terms of what playoff series or matchups would look like. We want to be prepared that if that avenue opens up that we have forward thought through all the issues. There's a lot of strategic thought going on, a lot of discussions going on with the players, the coaches, on how this thing may unfold and being ready if it does."
Out of everyone in the Lakers organisation, Pelinka has little concerns about the two faces of the franchise, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
"Everybody knows LeBron is a pro's pro and I know that the way that he dedicates himself to his profession is unparalleled and has been in this time. In terms of what he does on daily basis you best ask him but I know he's been committed to leadership, he's been committed to continue to inspire his teammates,"
"Anthony Davis has also done that. It's a special group of guys, they want to stay connected, they want to stay ready. I know from a mindset standpoint and a physical standpoint those two guys will be as good as any athlete in the world in staying mentally and physically ready."
Ultimately for Pelinka, positive thoughts and hope remain key, and that Madela quote will continue to encourage him to look to brighter days ahead, with sports to play a big part in that return to normalcy whenever that time may be.
"I think sports really can be powerful, I think all of us miss it, I find myself in the morning just missing NFL and WNBA and Major League Baseball."
"Just the buzz and the coverage and intel, all of us just miss it. I'm going to continue to hold on to the hope of sports being back and look forward to that day because we know that this current crisis like everything, this too shall pass, we don't know when it will be but we know sports will be on the otherside and we'll continue to hope for that day."
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.