Ivica Zubac reacts to Orlando bubble debut after revealing bout with coronavirus
LOS ANGELES – LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac made his Orlando bubble debut on Monday night in the team’s 106-102 loss to the Sacramento Kings. It was the Clippers’ third and final scrimmage game of the bubble, but it was the first opportunity Zubac had to return to the court in over four months since the NBA’s hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the game, which he finished with two points and six rebounds in 13 minutes of play, Zubac revealed to members of the media that he’d been battling the coronavirus over the last couple of weeks.
“I know no one has said it, but I had the virus,” Zubac admitted. “I feel good. I tested positive the week before fourth of July. I didn’t have any symptoms. I felt a little tired for two or three days, but other than that I was good. I was getting tested daily, and I was waiting to clear all the protocols to join the team in Orlando, but it was tough because I couldn’t get in a gym. I couldn’t stay in shape. I mean, I did some stuff, but it’s hard to replace the practices and these games. I did as much as I could, but I wish I was with the team from the start.”
Zubac said that despite the time off, he felt good being back out on the court, but felt winded at times.
“I could feel I was a little out of shape,” Zubac said after the game. “There’s some room to get in better shape, better conditioning. I’ll be working out every day trying to get into that game shape that they need me to. Every day I’m going to get better and better. I think it’s not going to take long, probably a few days. It’s hard to say like this, but I’m finally here, and I’ll get to practice and work out every day, so I think I’ll be good in a few days.”
Having been separated from the team, Zubac has obviously been unable to share any court time with his new teammates up until today. The team, however, did everything possible to ensure that both Zubac and Landry Shamet stayed up to date on all the team’s activities. That includes live Zoom calls of Clippers practice in Orlando for both players to watch.
“Zu was great,” head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “All through COVID, Zu was one of the guys that worked out on all our Zoom workouts, and he looked great. Obviously, we were laughing because I don’t care how much you work out. A basketball game — an NBA basketball game — is different. And so you get winded.”
Zubac will be key for the Clippers’ run, which begins Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. Montrezl Harrell doesn’t appear to be in Orlando yet, only heightening Zubac’s potential as a screen-setter, a rim-runner, and a rim-protector.
“It’s been tough when you’ve got all of your teammates and everyone on the other side of the country working out, trying to get better, trying to get in shape,” Zubac added. “I was stuck at home, and I was working out, but you know, you can’t get much work. You know, they were always sending us links for the practice, so we was able to watch the practices every time. We tried to get the plays down. It helped out a little bit.”
The Clippers will hold practices on Tuesday and Wednesday as their final tuneups before their Thursday opener.