Superior Native Mike Carlson Talks Coronavirus Impact on Basketball Overseas
The former Duluth Marshall star spent the past six years playing professional basketball overseas.
DULUTH, Minn. – Six years ago, former Duluth Marshall basketball star Mike Carlson turned an All-American college career into an opportunity to play professionally overseas. But the Superior native had no idea what would lie ahead when the coronavirus began to turn into the pandemic it is today.
After four years in Spain, Carlson signed with a team in Italy in 2018. But midway through his second season just one month ago, the coronavirus popped up in the country but didn’t have an immediate impact on the games.
“It wasn’t taken seriously. There wasn’t a lot of information out there. No one was being really decision like ‘hey we need to get this under control’. It just kind of floundered and then two weeks later, they said we’re going to play these games with no fans now,” Carlson said.
By then, the cases had jumped from almost 300 to 6,000.
“At that point, it was just too much for everyone to handle and they were not prepared. They were not ready. There wasn’t a lot of communication and no one made any decisions so it just kind of got out of control at that point,” said Carlson.
The league would suspend their games and Carlson reached out to his team to tell them he wanted to leave before the country before it was locked down.
“My family was texting me. A bunch of people were texting me. I saw it on the news so I booked my flight the next morning. My girlfriend lives in Spain so I came here to wait it out with her,” Carlson said.
But then Spain would announce a lock down as they too could not handle the increase in cases.
I was talking to some friends in Madrid and they were saying that people were going to the hospitals and just saying that they had a fever and the hospitals were basically counting them as confirmed cases. They were kind of inflating their numbers without actually handing out any corona tests,” said Carlson.
Carlson described what it’s like outside his apartment in San Sebastian, Spain.
“Not a lot of cars driving in the streets. Police are kind of patrolling the area. People can walk their dogs and basically go to the supermarket or the pharmacy and that’s about it,” Carlson said.
And based on his conversations with those who have went back home to the U.S., Carlson says he’s going to avoid a hectic trip and wait it out, unless there’s a family emergency.
“As for now, my original plan was stay over here in Europe, at least until the end of May and then head back home around then. That’s two and a half months away and I don’t know what’s going to happen in that time. But I’m sure I’ll be able to find a flight back if I need to,” said Carlson.
And Carlson had this final message for his family and friends in the Northland.
“Just be safe. Be smart. Limit your risks of going outside. And a big shout out to Brandon Myer. He had a hell of a year with UMD. I hope he can do big things as a pro,” Carlson said.