Nobody wants to be a member of the COVID-19 club.
Trey Burke was like everybody else. It’ll never happen to me, right?
Well, it happened to him. Just like it’s happened to thousands of others.
Yes, COVID-19 hit me in late June. And as Burke can relate, it’s no fun whatsoever.
Sweating through clothes two times per night. Sleeping very little. Wild temperature fluctuations. And the mental side is probably even worse, wondering if it’ll get worse before it gets better.
Burke found out that he had the coronavirus when he had mandatory testing in the days leading up to the Mavericks’ departure to the NBA’s restart bubble near Orlando, Fla.
When their plane landed there, he wasn’t with the team, even though he had signed a substitution contract (for Willie Cauley-Stein) on July 1.
There’s no good time to get the virus. But this was horrible timing. Burke was trying to show his worth for the future as he was a man without a contract after being waived by Philadelphia.
Then, he had the COVID-19 setback.
“It was a very unique situation,” he said Friday. “I had to quarantine at the Virgin Hotel (near the Mavericks’ practice facility), for I think it was almost a month. I got a little nervous because I kept testing positive and in between those positives, there were some negatives, so I was getting a little confused and flustered.
“At the same time, I’m still trying to prove myself and I hadn’t even gotten to the bubble at the time. These were all the thoughts that were playing on my mind – Is it the end? Is it over? – and for me, looking in the mirror and all the people that count on me on a daily basis and all the work I put in and all the advice I give to athletes younger than me, it would have looked silly to just roll over and let corona determine how things played out for me last year. So I took the necessary steps.”
Burke was going through the coronavirus about the same time I was.
Feeling like garbage for a week should have been the first sign that it had attacked me. But I didn’t know for sure until my annual physical in early August.
I had antibodies to spare, proof that the virus had come and gone.
For all of us like Burke who have been through it, we have a profound respect for the virus. It can be beaten. Most people do. But it plays no favorites. Even though most fit (and the most burly) people are susceptible to getting it.
Burke has had many conversations with teammates and others in the Mavericks’ organization. The way he came through the virus spoke volumes about why the Mavericks were eager to re-sign him to a three-year contract before this season.
“Every morning, I woke up, took my medicine,” Burke said. “I changed my diet. I stopped eating fried foods and I wasn’t drinking a lot of juices or pop.
“I was drinking nothing but water. I was just doing extreme stuff because I was desperate at the time. I tried to look at that situation and look at my situation now and I still want to keep that same approach because that approach is what helped me perform the way I did.”
With COVID-19 cases spiking again, Burke is proof that how you come out of the isolation and quarantine is important.
When he did join the Mavericks in the bubble, he responded with 31 points and six assists against Houston in the first game in the bubble. He would average 12 points and shoot .432 from 3-point range in eight seeding games.
In the six playoff games against the LA Clippers, Burke averaged 12.3 points and shot .472 from beyond the arc.
It was proof that you can contract COVID-19 and still come back stronger than ever.
Sadly, that’s not the case for everybody. But it gives those who do a common bond.
“There were a lot of emotions,” Burke said of the bubble and recovering from the coronavirus. “Some days, I was high. Some days, I was a little down. I learned a lot about myself. I learned that even going into situations that don’t look the brightest, if you stay true to yourself and stick to what you believe in and trust your work, even in the situations you might be uncertain, it can turn into the situation I’m in now.”
Going forward, Burke’s role on the team likely will be for his instant offense off the bench, although he says he now values the need for defense more than ever at this point in his career.
His three-year contract pays him $10-million and he and his teammates went through their first five-on-five drills of the preseason on Friday.
It wasn’t much scrimmaging. Mostly, it was teaching on the defensive end and getting rookies and newcomers familiar with the Mavericks’ terminology.
Since re-signing, Burke has been reminded of just why he feels so comfortable and is so productive in Dallas.
“The system fits my game,” Burke said. “I feel comfortable here. And the bubble experience solidified that for me. When I left, I started thinking about what’s next for me, what situation I want to be in and Dallas always was No. 1. Coach (Rick) Carlisle, first and foremost, trusts in me, believes in me.
“And when you have a head coach who believes in you, I feel like that’s half the battle. The other half is actually going out and producing. So that was always comforting to me. I always kept that in mind. And when it was time to negotiate the business side of things, I told my agent that. Realistically, I wanted to stay in Dallas. I know how things go, but they were priority No. 1.”
When you’ve been in the trenches with a team – including the COVID-19 trench – you can’t help but feel right about returning to that team.