Larry Nance Jr. hopes NBA finishes season, crowns champion

Cavs F remaining optimistic, aware of impact cancellation could have

Daryl Ruiter
May 12, 2020 - 9:00 pm

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For fans who miss basketball, Larry Nance Jr. feels your pain.

As ESPN fills the void with classic games and the docuseries “The Last Dance,” Nance hopes the entire league will return to the court to finish what they started last fall.

“This is the longest I haven't played a game of basketball in my entire life,” Nance said Tuesday on a Zoom call.

The Cavaliers forward is also adjusting after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the NBA, and world, to a screeching halt in mid-March.

While doubts remain about a resumption, Nance sees hope on the horizon.

“I'm really trying to stay optimistic because I want to come back,” Nance said.

“I feel confident that they're gonna figure something out. But, I mean, I'd be lying if I said I knew anything [more than] you did.”

Scrapping the season and looking ahead to next season isn’t something Nance wants to entertain.

“We’re not in position to win a championship this year but if I was, if I was Giannis (Antetokounmpo), if I was LeBron (James), if I was Kawhi (Leonard), if I was on one of those championship caliber teams, I’d be pretty upset about it,” Nance said. “It’s very rare in this league that a chance like this comes along that’s taken a valuable year off someone’s career.

“Everybody in the league, we want to finish this year. One, obviously because we love the game, but at the same time there’s a serious chance of us missing out on, what, 20-plus percent of our contracts, which is for a lot of guys pretty significant.”

Nance was one of the first players to return to Cleveland Clinic Courts to work out last Friday when the facility reopened with strict guidelines from the league and health officials to follow.

Despite the unusual circumstances, the sterile environment made him feel safe.

“I think it was the masks,” Nance said. “I don't know, for me, that just provides a sense of security. You know that you get your own two basketballs that's it. You have your one coach, that coaches are wearing masks and gloves that are unique to you. And even in the weight room, you pick up a weight, and if I was using 45s, nobody else that day was allowed to use the 45s until they were cleaned and sterilized.

“It was so well regimented that I feel pretty safe going.”

Should the season be scheduled to restart, Nance believes three weeks would be sufficient for him to get back into basketball shape.

There have been reports of the league considering a single, isolated location to play out the schedule and playoffs like Las Vegas or Orlando.

Nance understands the risks of playing. He’s also willing to listen to options.

“If it's totally safe,” Nance said. “If it's totally locked down that it has to be safe, that's the key word of course, but yeah I mean, I don't care, I'll play 82 games and 82 days at this point. I think all guys are just itching, guys are itching to come back. Obviously, the key word being safe, but yeah I would, if that was the idea proposed and it was safe, I'll be the first one to vote yes.”

If – and it’s a big if – the NBA returns to finish the season, they’ll likely have to do it in empty arenas with no fans which Nance acknowledges could dramatically impact the competition.

“It would take away home court advantage,” Nance said. “When we go on a run having the fans behind us or when the other team goes on a run, we have the fans that push us forward. I think that kind of ruins the whole home court advantage thing like it's a, the whole momentum the adrenaline of the fans being in the building cheering you on is something that can't be understated.”