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Don’t call Chris Boucher one of those ‘Covidiots.’
He has nothing like the idiotic partiers down south who went ahead full-bore on Spring Break, despite the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Or the Snowbirds who returned to Canada and immediately went shopping like it was business as usual.
Yes, Boucher, a third-year big man with the Toronto Raptors, would be the first to tell you that he shouldn’t have gone to a downtown grocery store on March 12, but he thought in the moment it was OK because he had tested negative for COVID-19.
“What really happened to me was just that for a minute I needed to get stuff for me to survive, really. Like I didn’t have nothing and I didn’t want to trust Uber Eats or anything and all that, especially knowing the way the virus was spreading,” Boucher told English and French-speaking reporters on a conference call on Wednesday afternoon.
“So I got my test and they were saying that I was negative. So now I know that I can’t do nothing to people so I just wanted to get my groceries done. It’s not like I wanted to be seen. Somebody just took a picture, knew where I was. It’s unfortunate,” Boucher said.
Toronto had played the Utah Jazz only days earlier and all the players had been tested and ordered into self-isolation.
“I can’t do nothing, but that’s not something I was trying to do. Nobody wants to get that virus. I don’t want to give it to nobody if I had it. Definitely I should have just stayed home and that’s why I felt like I had to apologize because, even if I knew that I didn’t have it, it’s not acceptable,” said Boucher, who was born in Saint Lucia, but moved to Montreal when he was five and was raised there.
Since completing protocols, Boucher has been following procedures, trying to stay in shape and stave off boredom while also worrying about relatives he can’t go and see since he’s stuck in Toronto.
“Basically, it’s really hard. I don’t have family close, my family is in Montreal, so Toronto is kind of where I had to stay for the whole time, just trying to figure things out. Sometimes it could be something real easy like (toilet paper) or Lysols or stuff to clean the house, stuff like that. That’s when you realize that (you’re not) going outside,” he said.
Boucher commended the Raptors for doing their best to check in on their players.
“With (video), you actually can lift with Jonny (Lee), our strength and conditioning coaches. I have done a lot of that. The team did a good job to make sure that doctors can call us every day to make sure we’re OK. The rest of it is really a lot of figuring out how it will work when we get busy. Because after like two weeks, you’re like, vacation or not, pandemic now, you just want to be doing something,” Boucher said.
Boucher managed to turn some heads during his third NBA season, particularly with his superb work on the offensive glass and his rim protecting skills. He also has not shied away from launching three-pointers, and though he only shot 28% from out there, he’s a good free-throw shooter (80%) and it’s easy to see his long-range accuracy improving.
It was only a few games before the NBA shut down that Boucher went off in Phoenix for 19 points and 15 rebounds, along with 7-for-8 work at the free-throw line. Once he focused on being an energy player and going out and trying to make things happen in limited bursts, Boucher began to emerge as a potential NBA contributor.
Asked by Postmedia what he feels like he has proven this season, Boucher had a quick answer.
“That I can play. Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff that I can get better at, but I think that my technique I was able to show right out of the door and kind of find ways to help the team win,” he said.
“I think that’s what’s most important. That I could be effective in the game. I think I’ve learned that.”
The Raptors initially brought Boucher in before the 2018-19 season as a two-way player. He would go on to win the NBA G League’s MVP and defensive player of the year awards and, in Feb. 2019, his two-way contract was converted to a standard NBA deal. That contract has an option for the Raptors to extend Boucher a qualifying offer for next season for just under $2 million US, but he’s not looking ahead at this point.
“I mean, at the end of the day, we don’t know what’s gonna happen. You (the reporters on the call) and me are both clueless right now, so at this point I’m just trying to focus on health and making sure my family’s good. I stay online just to watch news about the NBA so hopefully we can finish the season and if not, well, I’ll have to think about a lot of stuff.
“I knew this (contract) stuff was coming, so, obviously, it’s gonna be a process, but for me right now that’s not what I’m thinking about. There’s way more important things to be thinking about right now.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020