After spending four months in Greece playing basketball professionally for the Ionikos Nikaias, former Wildkat Alan Arnett returned home after the season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After finishing up what would be the team’s last game on March 8, Arnett and his teammates returned to the gym on March 10 for practice when the team’s general manager informed them there would be no more practices for a week at least.
The men already were prepared to play their upcoming games without fans in the crowd, but they were not prepared for a total cancelation.
“We was already aware that the next couple games we were going to play without fans. So we were already prepared for that. Wednesday (March 11), we wasn’t really prepared that we weren’t going to practice anymore. That Tuesday (March 10) was our last practice. They canceled practice pretty much for the whole week, and they ended up canceling the games for that weekend,” Arnett said.
Waiting until the season officially was canceled, Arnett stayed in Greece until March 16. He had the option to continue to stay in Greece, but Arnett decided immediately that he would go back home to Kokomo, although initially there was mass miscommunication regarding the travel ban, he said.
Many Americans in the leagues overseas were unsure of their ability to fly back to the United States after President Donald Trump’s announcement. However, after receiving clarification, he and some other teammates who were U.S. citizens got the “go-ahead” to leave the country.
Greece, like many places in the U.S., ran out of cleaning supplies in stores and shut down restaurants and shops, Arnett said. People seemed to react about the same in both countries, according to him.
After returning to his apartment in Kokomo with his girlfriend, Arnett was instructed to self-quarantine for two weeks. Although he briefly saw his parents upon his arrival to grab the key to his home, Arnett said it felt unusual coming back and not seeing any of his close friends as he normally would.
“Usually when I come home it’s getting together with my close friends and brothers and just rejoicing and having a good time and enjoying each other’s company. I would say that’s been different,” Arnett said.
Even while in quarantine, Arnett remains active by doing workouts at home and running or biking on the trails when the weather is nice. In the meantime, his agent has been working to negotiate a contract for him to play another season in a European league. Previously, Arnett has played in Slovakia, Ukraine, and Uruguay before landing in Greece.
Compared to the American version of the sport, Arnett said the game is a little different in every European country. In general, he said the game is slower and more detailed in Europe. Additionally, after playing some pros in the NBA over a previous summer, he noticed the U.S. version is more of an “isolation game,” and the European version focuses more on “team” with a lot of spacing and moving the ball.
For the last few years, Arnett has worked with kids in the Kokomo community doing individual basketball training. Currently, he has plans to continue this with previous and new students this summer, as long as the COVID-19 restrictions are loosened or lifted for him to do so, Arnett said.
Arnett commented on the safety and health of the community in the meantime.
“To my family and friends and city of Kokomo, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy,” Arnett said.