During the NBA shutdown, Heat center Meyers Leonard has a goal.
Through Leonard’s love for video games, particularly “Call of Duty,” he hopes to help “feed over one million people in the month of April” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That had Leonard gaming for 24 consecutive hours from Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon, streaming his play on the Twitch video platform to raise $70,000. Leonard’s goal is to raise $175,000 this month, and he notes “the rest of the month is going to be exciting.”
That positive outlook is by design, a bright spot in an otherwise dark time for the world. It all began with a conversation Leonard had with his wife, Elle, on the morning of March 12, hours after the NBA suspended its season.
“We sat down and we had breakfast, and we said: ‘You know what, this is not a time to just sit around and do nothing. This is a time to take advantage of not only spending time together, but also doing things that we wouldn’t normally have time to do, No.1. And No. 2, how do we continue to impact people at a high level,’” Leonard recalls.
“We broke it down as a couple and as individuals. Elle and I constantly talk about being kind of hyphens. What that means is I’m not only an NBA player, I’m a husband. I have a passion for gaming and streaming on Twitch, I’m very active in the community. For my wife, she hates the title NBA wife and I don’t blame her. She’s a CEO, she’s a very driven woman, very smart and loving wife, trick shot master, pun master.”
There’s certainly enough to keep the Leonards busy during this time. Along with Leonard’s gaming, the couple runs their own protein bar company, Level Foods, and is on the verge of releasing the first episode of their new podcast.
“We absolutely sat down and said, ‘OK, how do we take this time to better ourselves, but to put content out there during a time where it is a bit dark?’” Leonard said. “People are wondering like what the heck am I supposed to do with my time. There are so many question marks in the air.”
While Leonard has found things to fill his time, he can’t fill the basketball void as he isolates with his wife in their Miami home. The NBA season was suspended on March 11.
“I absolutely love the game of basketball,” said Leonard, who will be an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason. “I absolutely love being a part of the Miami Heat and the Miami Heat culture. I’ve grown very close to really all of my teammates and the coaches and the staff. I’m a people person. So having to be away from everyone is very weird for me.
“I do miss that. This has been a very special year not only for me, but for our team. That’s where I’m at right now in terms of the professional side of things by just not being around it.”
In an interview with Heat.com, wing Andre Iguodala said he’s spending the NBA shutdown with his family on the West Coast, where he has a home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The biggest adjustment for me was getting back to the family on the West Coast and making sure everything was good back there,” Iguodala said. “I was trying to figure out the logistics of when do I leave or when am I coming back? If the season is going to come back, if so when and how is that going to look? Once I got back home, it became pretty normal pretty quickly.
“I’ve got a whole setup as far as gym equipment. A lot of guys are on bikes or treadmills. We know the Heat is all about culture and keeping the players in ultimate conditioning. (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Eric Foran has me situated with things I didn’t have, and we have a daily workout schedule. It’s pretty locked in.”
The NBA is recommending its players stay in market to avoid travel and remain close to their teams, but it’s allowing them to travel elsewhere if they want to go home or be with family and friends.
“Initially it was a two-weeks to a month type of thing of a delay, so I figured I would get back to the family really fast and then get back to the team,” Iguodala said of his time on the West Coast. “Once I got out here, we were shutting down everything. That’s when you knew it was time to lock in, set a daily schedule and optimize your days.”
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