LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Dakari Johnson has enjoyed plenty of success in two seasons playing in the Chinese Basketball League. The former Kentucky Wildcat averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds this season for the Qingdao Eagles. Still, in early January, just before a two-week break, the Coronavirus prematurely ended the season.
Oklahoma City Thunder center Dakari Johnson during an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
"Our last game they gave everybody masks, and everybody was confused," said Johnson. "They said a couple of people were sick in a certain city Wuhan China."
Johnson had planned a vacation to Bali (Indonesia) and Singapore the next day but realized quickly how serious the situation was.
"I think it was like the fifth day of my vacation like three days before I had to go back, the airports were getting shut down in China," said Johnson. "So I am texting my translator, and he was like yeah, this is not a good situation. The team got us flights to go back home to America, and they said when everything clears up here, you know they will fly us back."
Johnson hasn't been back since. Now he's staying with his family in Atlanta, doing his best to stay ready.
"You know I use the Peloton bike every day," said Johnson. "I have a weighted jump rope and a weighted vest, so I just get 1,000 jumps and just do little stuff push-ups and sit-ups and calisthenics."
The Chinese Basketball league plans to start again in July, and Johnson is hopeful it will be safe enough to return to his team.
"With everything that has happened, it is just crazy," said Johnson. "So I'm kind of in a wait and see mode until then I'm just stuck in the house just hoping everything gets better."