Goran Dragic discusses new normal during NBA shutdown, which includes Heat workouts on Zoom

Tribune Content Agency

Like many people around the world, Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic is still getting used to the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic.

While isolating themselves in their Miami home, Dragic and his wife, Maja, are left answering many questions from their two children, 6-year-old Mateo and 4-year-old Viktoria, on why life has suddenly changed.

“They’re asking questions and we tried to explain what is going on,” Dragic said on a conference call with South Florida reporters Tuesday afternoon. “But it’s tough during these times. They’re asking why we’re doing home schooling and why we always stay at home and we try to tell them, but it’s hard.”

And like so many, Dragic is trying to find the positives in this unique situation. But still, the 33-year-old admits it has been a scary time.

“For my wife, the good thing is I’m at home and we’re all together,” Dragic said. “The tough part is it’s different every time when you go to the store, you’re a little bit afraid. You have those crazy thoughts of what if you catch something and bring it back home. But so far we’re cautious, we disinfect all the stuff. We are isolated at home. We don’t go out. So we have managed. It’s tough, but everybody is going through it.”

Dragic also faces the fact that his home country, Slovenia, is thousands of miles away.

Slovenia has asked most citizens to return to the country, and Dragic’s parents did just that recently after spending time in South Florida. Dragic’s brother Zoran, the former Heat guard who now plays in Spain, is in the middle of a 20-day quarantine in a hotel in Slovenia after returning from Spain. And Dragic’s uncle is stuck in South Florida because he’s from Serbia, which has closed its borders.

Slovenia has reported 802 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 15 deaths.

“I’m still nervous, because they’re saying, even if you get infected you don’t show the symptoms,” Dragic said of his parents recently taking a long flight from Miami to Slovenia. “They just got back home three days ago. Everything is fine, they feel fine. Luckily there was not a lot of people on the plane, so they were sitting only with my dad and my mom in the row. But yeah, they had all the gloves, all the masks on and they disinfect everything.”

Dragic added that Zoran said “in Spain it was really a crazy situation over there. He said it’s unbelievable, people are getting sick and people are dying.”

For Dragic, he said he plans to remain in the United States because he has a home in Miami and has U.S. health insurance. With the NBA possibly playing into September if the season resumes in the coming months, this could be the first time Dragic doesn’t have an opportunity to make a summer trip to Slovenia.

“I’m here to do my job,” Dragic said. “If the NBA is going to continue to play games, whenever that’s going to start, I’m going to be here. So, you know, as long as everybody’s safe, yeah, it’s going to be a little bit different if I don’t go home. But it doesn’t matter. The family can come here and we can hang out here when all this stuff with the virus calms down.”

Dragic revealed that quarantine has included group workouts for him and his Heat teammates over the Zoom remote conferencing platform. With NBA facilities closed indefinitely, it’s one way for the Heat to make sure players remain in shape.

“Every day we have a workout on Zoom and we see (Heat head strength and conditioning coach) Eric Foran,” Dragic said. “We are lifting weights practically every day from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. And it’s fun. At least you’re not thinking about those hard times for that one hour. You try to work out and that’s how we talk, over Zoom and see each other and work out together.”

Those group workouts also include members of the Heat’s coaching staff like assistant coach Chris Quinn, with the video element of Zoom allowing players and staff to watch others exercise.

Dragic has also been running around his neighborhood to maintain his conditioning, which could be an issue for many players if the league restarts the season since NBA facilities and gyms are closed across the country. That’s one of the reasons Dragic would prefer to play a handful of regular-season games before beginning the playoffs if the league is able to complete the 2019-20 season.

“I’m working out, I’m running around the house,” said Dragic, who has averaged 16.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 54 games this season. “I’m maintaining my shape, so when this thing is going to be over, I think I’m going to be in good shape. But like I said before, some guys can’t do that because they live in apartments or something else. So that’s why we’re going to need a couple of weeks to prepare as a group, as individuals. I would rather have a couple of friendly games. Maybe from there on, go straight to playoffs.”

As for the possibility of a playoff run, Dragic said the potential of a first-round matchup against the Indiana Pacers was brought up in a Tuesday conversation with his uncle. Based on the current standings, the Heat would have home-court advantage in a first-round series against the Pacers.

“It would be a tough matchup,” Dragic said. “We’ve played them two times, and it was a close game at home.”

Then Dragic snapped back into this new normal.

“But I think we’re still too far from playing,” he said.


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