Utah Company Leading The Way To Keep NBA Players Ready For The Season
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz, like all teams across the NBA, are anxious to get back on the basketball court. With the league sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic, many players on the roster found themselves trapped at home and locked out from the team’s practice facilities. To make matters worse, as a result of the number of players who live in apartment buildings during the season, a shockingly large percentage of the NBA lacks access to basic training equipment, including basketball hoops.
One Utah company is leading the campaign to change that.
Lifetime Products, based out of Clearfield, Utah has been working to outfit NBA players in need with portable basketball hoops to help keep them in shape while preparing to get them back on the hardwood. Though the company makes a wide range of products from tables and chairs, to kayaks and swing sets, portable basketball hoops have been a prized commodity over the last few months.
Landon Southwick, the public relations manager for Lifetime told KSL Sports the company began a campaign to get players hoops beginning with the Jazz and spreading leaguewide to keep the NBA’s athletes ready to return to the floor.
“The amount of people that are reaching out to us to get hoops is incredible,” Southwick said, “A lot of these NBA guys couldn’t get hoops, that was part of the situation, they’d reach out to their agent trying to try to find a hoop and they just couldn’t find them.”
After partnering with Joe Ingles to help the company find better footing in his native Australia last year, the Jazz guard reached out to Lifetime when he found himself stuck at home with no access to a court.
“He hadn’t touched a basketball since he walked off the court in Oklahoma City,” Southwick said of Ingles, “He needed a hoop and knew we made hoops, so he gave us a call and we took him up a hoop so that he could play basketball.”
Ingles told the company that before the league’s hiatus, he preferred to keep his family life and professional life separate. Despite owning a personal gym, the 32-year-old guard wanted to be able to get away from the sport when he’s home.
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“Basketball is my job and my family is what I care about when I am at home,” Ingles told Southwick, “I don’t mix the two necessarily.”
Even before starting a family in Utah, Ingles had kept his personal and private life independent.
“I honestly never had my own basketball hoop except for the little plastic one since I was a kid in Adelaide,” Ingles said, “Growing up I had one in my backyard, but since growing up a little bit I’ve never had a hoop until like two weeks ago.”
While the team has worked with its players to get them set up with training regiments and free weights, hoops have been a scarcity.
“It’s been tough,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said of staying in shape without access to a basketball court, “But the NBA, and teams, and the NBAPA, and trainers have done a great job about sending us schedules and sending us things that we can do and tailoring it for the individual.”
Even though players may be able to leave their homes to exercise outdoors, most public basketball courts across the country have been closed to stop the spread of the virus.
— Mayor Lightfoot #StayHomeSaveLives (@chicagosmayor) April 10, 2020
After setting Ingles up with a hoop, the word quickly spread around the Jazz organization that the company could be of assistance.
“Team president Jim Olsen went down their roster and made sure all of their guys had an opportunity to have a hoop,” Southwick said, “That was a big deal.”
To date, Royce O’Neale, Tony Bradley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Juwan Morgan, Miye Oni, Jordan Clarkson, and Ingles have received equipment from Lifetime, but the list has rapidly expanded beyond the Jazz.
Following in Ingles footsteps, Miami Heat All-Star guard Jimmy Butler reached out to the company to find access to the equipment required to be ready to return to the floor.
“Jimmy wanted to get hoops for all of his teammates,” Southwick said, “So every Miami Heat player has a hoop.”
Beyond the Heat, some 70 professional basketball players have contacted Lifetime to find hoops. Those names include Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr, and WNBA superstars Sue Bird and Brittney Griner.
The list even includes some local pro hopefuls.
“It went from guys that were entering the draft like [Utah State guard] Sam Merrill to guys that are NBA All-Stars,” Southwick said, “So that was kind of a unique spectrum that everybody was getting to play on our hoop. It was cool in that sense for us.”
— Sam Merrill (@smerrill05) April 21, 2020
Lifetime was inspired to build a campaign around the players, seeing the unique ability basketball has to bring people together, even during a pandemic.
“One team, your court,” Southwick said, “It doesn’t matter who you play for or where you play, we’re all on one team.”
Though reports have emerged that the NBA may be able to reopen team facilities as soon as next week in certain cities, the Lifetime basketball hoops won’t go unused at players’ homes.
“A handful of players are going to donate their hoops after they’re done using them and get back into training facilities,” Southwick said, “That was a big thing that the Miami Heat are going to do. They are all going to donate their hoops after this has ended and stuff open backs up to people in their community.”
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