Larry Nance wants NBA to think about players with preexisting conditions when restarting amid coronavirus

Ryan Young
·3-min read

The NBA still has no set plan to resume play this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

If it does attempt a restart in some form in the near future, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. is hoping that the league will keep players like him in mind when doing so.

Nance has Crohn’s disease, and while therapy has allowed him to play in the league, it has also suppressed his immune system — something that puts him at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“I would hope there would be an understanding [from the league] if someone didn’t feel comfortable coming back that you’d get a pass,” Nance said, via ESPN. “Just because you may look like the picture of health, some people have issues you can’t see.”

Nance was averaging 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds off the bench for Cleveland this season, his fifth in the league, when play was suspended due to the coronavirus. The 27-year-old is in the first year of a four-year, $44.8 million deal with the Cavaliers. Nance has returned to work out at the team facility since it reopened earlier this month, though plenty of precautions are in place.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when he was 16 years old, and receives an infusion of the drug Remicade every six weeks during the NBA season. The drug is commonly used to weaken overactive immune responses, and allows him to compete with the disease.

Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. has Crohn’s disease and a suppressed immune system, which puts him at a higher risk for contracting the coronavirus.
Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. has Crohn’s disease and a suppressed immune system, which puts him at a higher risk for contracting the coronavirus. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Nance, per ESPN, has been consulting with different gastrointestinal specialists in the past several weeks to learn more about the virus and how it can impact people with Crohn’s disease. The drug he’s been taking for more than a decade has reportedly shown to be helpful in fighting off the coronavirus for some, too.

Still, even as a professional athlete who is in significantly better shape than the average person, Nance is worried.

“We’re young and you know the kind of shape players are in, you’d like to think [the coronavirus] wouldn’t be what it could be for others. But you don’t know,” Nance said, via ESPN. “I’m still scared and don’t want to get it.”

There were more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Monday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and nearly 90,000 deaths attributed to it. Ohio had nearly 28,500 cases alone, and more than 1,600 deaths.

Sports leagues across the world are all trying to find ways to either resume or start play during the coronavirus pandemic. Nance, naturally, has been keeping a close eye on how different leagues are doing so — and was watching when the Bundesliga resumed play in Germany last weekend.

“I’m paying super close attention to everything that is going on,” Nance said, via ESPN. “I was watching the German soccer league over the weekend and seeing how the players were interacting with each other and still seeing them make a lot of contact.

“I can’t even imagine being on one of those calls trying to hash this out. There’s so many ways to spread this.”

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