Like many people last Wednesday evening, Malcolm Miller relaxed at home.
The 27-year-old security guard at the Toronto Raptors watched an old episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and flipped through Twitter. Then he saw the news.
"I just looked through Twitter and saw it and thought, 'Wow! We're taking a break, ”Miller said in a phone interview.
Miller was shocked by the turn of events and, like many others, the fact that the NBA decided to suspend its season added to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And maybe it was twice for Miller because the Raptors were on the road trip of the Western Conference. This trip included two stops in the state of California (where confirmed cases of the novel corona virus had already been reported) and of course a game in Salt Lake City against Utah Jazz and the first two confirmed players from the NBA who were infected with the virus. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
“We were in San Francisco, we were in some places where a case was confirmed. It was like, "Be careful. Make sure you wash your hands and everything, but when we got home and found we were around and in contact with some people who tested positive, it made the situation much more real and a lot for everyone more tangible. Said Miller.
Because of this close contact, Miller and the rest of the Raptors were tested for COVID-19. These results were negative, but according to advice from leading healthcare professionals, the team instructed all members to isolate themselves.
This guideline was also a big eye opener for Miller.
“There was a little fear at first, but after we cleared it up, we realized that our role was to play in it, and how self-isolation not only helps us but also helps those who may have worse symptoms than we do or possibly worse affected than us, it really became something real and we realized that it was everyone's responsibility as a society, ”he said.
It also came with the revelation that Miller would have plenty of free time just to chill out at home.
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Fortunately, basketball is a big part of his life, but not the only aspect. Since isolating himself, Miller has been using his free time to learn about cryptocurrency and finally learn how to play the piano he got for Christmas and practice at home.
But as the self-proclaimed largest player of the Raptors, Miller – like many other athletes who are stuck at home without doing much else – also spends a remarkable amount of time playing video games and turns to his # 1 hobby to help pass the time.
However, Miller decided to do more than just play. With the recent release of Call of Duty: Warzone – the newest participant in the hugely popular Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise, the classic Call of Duty trap with the equally popular Battle Royale game type like Fortnite and combines The Battlefields of Player Unknown became popular – Miller, a 2005 Call of Duty series veteran, Call of Duty 2, decided to dive right in and start streaming on his Twitch account "spida1313".
"It's a pretty good game and it's fun," said Miller. "You can get lost playing for hours."
Miller is one of many athletes who stream while playing on Twitch. Others include Karl-Anthony Towns from the Minnesota Timberwolves, De & # 39; Aaron Fox from the Sacramento Kings, JuJu Smith-Schuster from the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and many, many more.
"Most people who have streamed have been doing this for a while," said Miller. "But now that basketball is gone, fans can get in touch with the people they really like."
] There are many question marks with lots of moving parts, but it's fun to keep things light-hearted. "
Whether this situation develops or not – and whether other athletes take their playing time as seriously as Miller seems – is unique to Miller's approach to playing seriously.
He recently contacted the Toronto Ultra, Toronto's pro-call-of-duty esport team, to see if he could play games with any of its members.
The Ultra, and in particular the Toronto-based Mehran "Mayhem" Anjomshoa, were more than willing to commit.
"I just saw his tweet and because I'm a big basketball fan, I immediately asked him if he wanted to play," Mayhem said on the phone.
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The ultra game in the Call of Duty League, a professional esports league that started in late January. Like the Overwatch League, the Call of Duty League has a number of teams from the city and should tour all the different host cities.
Like any other professional sporting event on the planet, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the original Call of Duty League tour schedule, including a weekend date in Toronto from June 27-28. As a result, games will have to be played online in the future.
This is a setup that is not ideal – playing online means the risk of playing games with bad delay, Anjomshoa said – but it is better than the alternative of not being able to play at all. Given the level Mayhem is playing at, even the slightest delay could mean that a match was won or lost.
"If you have a higher latency, the gameplay feels worse when you play and it differs significantly from what you see on your screen and what the other team sees when it has a better ping," said Anjomshoa.
This is a level of player that virtually no one who plays Call of Duty can figure out, but Miller experienced it firsthand when he got the chance to play with Anjomshoa.
"It's the next level," Miller said of Mayhem's skills. "They are professionals for a reason. I feel like a pretty good player, but there are levels."
Add about the seriousness of the Pro Esports competition: "If someone takes it lightly, it is definitely not something that another person should take lightly"
But Miller was impressed by Mayhem, so you could say that of Mayhem of Miller.
"Frankly, it's not that bad," said Mayhem. "When he's playing, he's actually pretty good. I'm not going to lie."
Maybe an alternative career path for Miller, should basketball stay on break longer than expected?
These are exceptional times that we are currently living in, and although video games are certainly not the most important sounding activities, they can provide a necessary mental break from the madness that is our collective reality.
So take it from Miller and find something that can help you relax, while we all do our part to fight this virus by staying home and keeping our hands nice and clean.
"Just sit back, relax a little, take one step at a time, and once you get all the facts, when you get all the information and you understand, the fear will subside," Miller said.