Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina has given a message of hope.
Ntilikina, whose home country France is in dire straits on a national lockdown, took to social media with a missive to “work on your spirit” during the coronavrius outbreak, predicting, “We will come out of this situation stronger.”
According to an NBA source, all players are permitted to leave their market city during the extended suspension and self-isolate there.
However, Ntilikina’s home base is France, which is on a lockdown, making it more complicated. The United States is not accepting flights back from France. International players “can’t currently leave the country,” according to an NBA source.
“It’s crazy how things can change from one minute to the next,” Ntilikina wrote on Instagram. “Over the last few days, we have learned that we are all equal. When it comes to global health. I just want to first and foremost to wish to all the people infected by the virus a speedy recovery.
“Second of all I want to invite you all to take this opportunity to spend with your loved ones and really count your blessings.”
Ntilikina is the longest-tenured Knick and the first member of the team to use social media to address the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s also a great time to work on your spirit, your mental and get your minds right,” Ntilikina wrote. “Firmly I believe that if we all do what needs to be done we will come out of this situation stronger so please stay united, stay positive. We got this. Much love.”
After their return last Thursday night from Atlanta, the Knicks were advised by the NBA to self-isolate at home. The Knicks had faced Utah center Rudy Gobert, who was Ntilikina’s teammate on Team France last summer, one week before Gobert was diagnosed with coronavirus.
It’s unclear how much interaction Ntilikina had with his fellow countryman that night, but the Knicks are under the belief Gobert was likely not infected when the teams played on March 4. More concerning is the Knicks played against Christian Wood of the Pistons, who also has tested positive for coronavirus, on March 8.
Last Tuesday morning before a game against the Wizards (in which the 21-year-old Ntilikina exhibited the promise of a brighter future by becoming the youngest Knick in history to post a 20-point, 10-assist game), Ntilikina seemed more concerned than most about the coronavirus situation during a time when the crisis had yet to speed up dramatically in the US.
Ntilikina admitted he was “really scared’’ at first, but felt the US was starting to become “more prepared.”
“We can avoid being sick if we are safe, really good hygiene, take care of ourselves, wash our hands, avoid handshakes,” Ntilikina said last Tuesday at Georgetown. “I think with us and people that are in the league, it’s much more elbow to elbow shakes, stuff like that, just being more cautious.”
As Ntilikina left that press conference, he said, “I can’t wait to be done with this virus.”