The pandemic tried to put hugs on hold. The NBA is bringing them back.
- Hugs are the hot new trend of the NBA Playoffs.
- Coaches and owners this week have physically embraced their star players after stellar performances in heartwarming scenes.
- Despite the effort of COVID-19 to stop them, hugs are back baby.
Sixteen months ago, the world at large shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The NBA played no small part in the escalation of precaution that took place in the United States. After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA suddenly suspended its season, with leagues across the world soon to follow.
As we all isolated ourselves for the protection of our fellow man through the pandemic, we wondered how the world would be changed once things were finally allowed to "return to normal," whatever that could mean after such a staggering loss.
The everyday magic of personal touch - a handshake with a new acquaintance, a first kiss on a date that was going pretty well, a hug with a trusted friend, family member, or even stranger, whether in a moment of tragedy or triumph - was lost for more than a full calendar year.
While the pandemic is still not over, Americans are getting vaccinated more and more each day, and over the past few weeks, we've begun to discover how that new normal looks. Families are being reunited in person for the first time, employees are returning to their offices, and fans are packing arenas for the NBA playoffs.
The NBA is doing its part in helping us return to that new normality.
In the NBA, hugs are back.
-Reggie Wade (@ReggieWade) June 16, 2021
That's Nets head coach Steve Nash embracing superstar Kevin Durant after he put up one of the most impressive performances in NBA Playoff history on Tuesday night.
Tied 2-2 in their series with the Bucks, and with Kyrie Irving benched due to injury and James Harden a shell of himself for the same reason, the burden fell on Durant to have the game of his life.
Durant played all 48 minutes and finished with 49 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, two blocks, and three steals, leading the Nets to a comeback victory after trailing by 16 at halftime.
When the final buzzer sounded, there were no words Nash could say to express what Durant had just done. He didn't need them. He only needed a hug.
A similar scene played out on Wednesday night between Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George and team owner Steve Ballmer.
With George's tandem partner Kawhi Leonard out due to injury, Playoff Paul needed to step up for the Clippers to have a shot against the Suns.
By the end of the night, the Clippers had the win, and George had quite a stat line, along with one big hug from Ballmer.
-SB Nation (@SBNation) June 17, 2021
We all dealt with the painful isolation of quarantine in our own way, and we are all working our way back at our own pace. Some of us aren't ready to dive back into the world of packed sports bars or sweaty summer concerts and the amount of physical contact that they entail.
But whenever you're ready, hugs are back.
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