LeBron James: Just left the crib to head to the bubble. Shit felt like I’m headed to do a bid man! Fr. Hated to leave the #JamesGang👑.
"Equality" is the most popular social justice message players have chosen to display on the backs of their NBA jerseys for the league's upcoming restart, National Basketball Players' Association executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN's The Undefeated on Wednesday. "Black Lives Matter" is second.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 285 of the expected 350 eligible NBA players have picked a social justice message to put on their jerseys while 17 have opted to continue to use their names instead, Roberts told The Undefeated. Although the soft deadline was Monday, she said the NBPA is waiting for more players to make a final decision. NBA jerseys are made by Nike.
Roberts said there also will be social justice messages on jerseys in languages other than English, including Slovenian, Italian, French Creole, Latvian, Maori, Hebrew, Bosnian and Portuguese. Oklahoma City Thunder guard and NBPA executive director Chris Paul plans to have "EQUALITY" on the back of his jersey. "I chose 'EQUALITY' because it reminds us that in order to have real impact and change, we need to make a conscious effort to level the playing field and create systems that are not bias based on race, education, economics or gender," Paul told The Undefeated.
Gordon Hayward's wife Robyn posted a heartfelt message to Instagram as the team was leaving noting how long she and their kids could be away from her husband. She is due with their fourth child in early September and Hayward has said he will leave the bubble in order to be with her when she goes into labor. Here's the post.
Brian Lewis: Tyler Johnson has not accompanied #Nets for personal reasons. He’ll join them in a few days, according to GM Sean Marks. #NBA
Do you think it’s the right thing for the NBA to resume the season? Kenny Smith: "I’m optimistic only because we were the first league to stop and the first major company to stop. So we’re the first to come back in a modified version. I’m hoping that because we stopped first, we have done the protocols and thought of some things in the bubble that most people hadn’t thought of already. So it could be something that this becomes useful for other places."
The NBA’s professional basketball teams have recently moved into a “isolation bubble” at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Reunion, Fla., where they will live, practice and play without outside visitors or fans, in an attempt to avoid the coronavirus. As part of that isolation, the NBA has partnered with six restaurants to provide delivery meals to staff and players. All six of those restaurants, which include Morton’s Steakhouse, Oceanaire and Joe’s Crab Shack, are owned by billionaire restauranteur and Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta, according to NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt.
Kendra Andrews: Nuggets pushed back their first practice in Orlando from today to tomorrow afternoon. With their quarantine period ending just this morning, coaches wanted the players to have a little more time to adjust before jumping back into things.
Josh Robbins: Aaron Gordon, when asked what it was like to practice today at Disney have a four-month layoff from team practices: "Honestly, it feels strange. It's a different setting, different circumstances."
NBC Sports Philadelphia: Joel Embiid has arrived for the flight to Orlando, in full mask, suit and glove gear.
Scott Agness: Malcolm Brogdon, who tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, is with the Pacers at Disney, per his IG. pic.twitter.com/23izwqMpG4
Will Guillory: Pat Bev went to the bubble with enough white tees to last a lifetime 😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/WQBwEFFyEe
For three days, Jennifer Hale had to isolate inside her room on the 20th floor of the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio. She did her taxes. She got some work done, though the WiFi was spotty because so many players were using it to stream video games. Three times a day, someone knocked on her door to deliver a brown paper bag full of food. “All the little things, you miss,” Hale said. “For instance, choosing your own meals. You get what they put in that bag.”
“The bubble is definitely a commitment,” Hale said. “It isn’t quote, unquote 'fun.' But it’s worth it. It’s doable. Everything has a purpose. I think everybody understands the rules. Everybody is on board with, 'Hey, if this is what needs to happen to have basketball back, we can live with it. We can do it.'"
No fans will be allowed in the stands, which has been the policy at basketball tournaments world-wide during the pandemic. Jordan Crawford, who was with the Pelicans from 2016-18, played for Brose Bamberg inside the German Basketball Bundesliga bubble. He said the most difficult part of the experience was playing six games in a 13-day span. Crawford only had two weeks of practice before games restarted. NBA players will have a little less than two weeks of practice before scrimmages begin. “When it got to game two, three, four, five and six, I couldn’t recover fast enough,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t feeling fresh. My legs were weak. I couldn’t move as quick. On the defensive end, I couldn’t react to people. I don’t like to be cocky or nothing like that, but that competition wasn’t that much. If I could’ve moved the way I wanted to move, we could’ve really won the thing.”
BLADE IN HAND, Mohashie "Mo" Rodriguez carefully guided a straight-edge razor across a customer's cheek, completing his first pass. It was midday on July 2 at The Cut Stop Barbershop in Miami's Palmetto Bay neighborhood, and people had been pouring into Rodriguez's barbershop since the city eased its lockdown rules. As Rodriguez prepared for his second pass, he heard his nearby cellphone ring and spotted the caller ID: Will Rondo, the 39-year-old brother of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo.
Normally, Rodriguez doesn't let calls interrupt his work, but he knew this one was different. So he reached for his phone, cradled it between his shoulder and ear and prepared to resume the shave. It only took a moment for Rodriguez to know it was the news he had been awaiting: He would be one of six barbers heading inside the NBA's bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. For a period that will last at least four weeks and stretch possibly as long as three and a half months, Rodriguez will be among a select few tasked with cutting the hair of the more than 300 players from 22 NBA teams.
Rodriguez immediately bolted upright and started shouting: "They picked me to be a part of the NBA bubble!" Cheers rang out from fellow barbers. His client, clad with shaving cream and lying reclined in the barber's chair, congratulated him as well.
It was a hectic turnaround from the time he received the call to the time he needed to leave, but at that moment, there was no hesitation -- only excitement. "I made the final cut to be a part of something so unique, man, something so special in NBA history," Rodriguez said. "Because, I mean, I hope to God this is the only year that they'll ever have to do this because of a pandemic or for any other reason, but I'm just glad I'm able to be a part of it because this is NBA history."
“I thought about it,” Embiid said when asked whether he considered opting out. “The current trend (of) people getting sick and a lot of people dying, obviously you don’t know what’s gonna happen, (but) you don’t want to be in a situation where you put your life at risk and all that stuff just for, what, the money? “At the end of the day, basketball is not all that matters. I got family, I got myself to look out for,” Embiid continued. “All I want to be is stay healthy and stay safe. Keep the people around me safe. I want to make sure I’m able to live for a long time and not have any sort of consequences in the future.”
“There’s some guys that like to go out, there’s some guys that like to do stuff, there’s some guys that like adventure,” Embiid said, joking that all he wants to do when on the road is play videogames. “I know myself. I know I’m not gonna put everybody else at risk. But the question is, is everybody else gonna do the same? Just being around this business, I surely don’t think so.”
Shams Charania: There are several teams that are going to Orlando, I'm told that are not going to be traveling with their full complement of players, like there's a group of three, four or five players that are going to have to stay back to make sure that comply with testing protocols.
Malika Andrews: Jon Horst said that food was an important topic in preparation for the bubble. Here are some of the meals I was delivered while in quarantine in Orlando. As I mentioned on the Hoop Collective w/ @WindhorstESPN , we are provided with several options to limit touching of food items:
Before the beginning of scrimmages on July 22, the memo notes, only teams located at two of the three NBA-attended hotels, the Grand Floridian and the Yacht Club, can use the boats. That means teams staying at the Gran Destino — which includes the Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Raptors, Nuggets, Celtics, Jazz and Heat — have to wait two weeks in Orlando before full marine privileges. Beginning in late July, Walt Disney World will open for after-hours experiences. Up to 40 guests at a time (so, mostly a full team — considering each organization is bringing about 40 people) will be allowed to go to Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, Test Track at Epcot and more.
Brandon Rahbar: Visual confirmation Andre Roberson is in Orlando with the Thunder from the best source possible: Dre’s long time girlfriend Rachel DeMita. pic.twitter.com/031Qh3t26s
Leonard was given permission by the organization to tend to a family matter and the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time NBA Finals MVP is expected to join the team on campus in a few days, sources said. The Clippers are scheduled to arrive in Orlando on Wednesday night.
Eric Walden: Utah Jazz GM Justin Zanik described the process of the team getting into the Orlando bubble: "The weirdest thing was getting on a pane again after 4 months." Charter flight was met by 2 Disney buses, they were given a police escort to the campus.
Marc J. Spears: Thunder guard and @NBPA president Chris Paul will have “EQUALITY” on the back of his jersey during the NBA re-start in Orlando, a source told @TheUndefeated. pic.twitter.com/gcg7zPkGTx
Harrison Wind: Booth says the Nuggets aren't concerned about Jokic's availability for the restart: "No, I don't think we're concerned at all. I think he's excited about joining the bubble I think everybody realizes the opportunity that we have and they want to try and take advantage of it."
Harrison Wind: More Booth on Jokic: "We're trying to work out the logistics right now. He's not en route as far as I know. I think he's waiting just to get a proper flight and get out here. I think he's feeling good about his situation and ready to go."
J. Michael Falgoust: McMillan on Oladipo's decision: "His call. I guess he didn't feel he would be ready to go. He has always planned to go to Orlando and play 5 on 5. He still plans ... to be involved with all the practices. There are no restrictions." #Pacers
Adrian Wojnarowski: New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry has been cleared to travel with the Pelicans to the Orlando bubble, sources tell ESPN.
Scott Agness: Pacers are scheduled to land in Orlando around noon on Thursday — among the final teams to arrive for the NBA’s restart.
Roy Parry: Magic CEO Alex Martins said the team is about to enter its second 24-hour quarantine period in the NBA bubble and will undergo a second COVID-19 test today... if all goes well, and he expects that it will, the team is scheduled to practice Thursday at 1 p.m.
How quickly will players knock off rust? To what degree will players be more susceptible to injuries? And will the long hiatus even the playing field between playoff teams? “I don’t think anyone in the NBA has ever been through anything like this,” Weltman said. “These guys have never been through this long a period of not playing basketball. And so that’s where the attachment (between players and their teams), the communication, the organization … will matter. The conditioning and the work that players have put in individually will matter. But this is completely unpredictable.”
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic retested negative for the coronavirus in Serbia, but travel issues and the timing of the requisite testing made it difficult for the All-Star to join the team for its flight to Orlando, Florida, a source confirmed to ESPN. The Nuggets departed Denver for Orlando on Tuesday, but the team would not confirm who was on the team flight.
A source said Jokic is healthy. However, the center had to produce two negative coronavirus tests in Serbia before traveling to the United States. And then he was required to produce two more negative tests before flying to Orlando with the team. A source said the timing of everything made it difficult and too tight of a fit for Jokic before the team departed on Tuesday.
Five Reasons Sports Network: Derrick Jones Jr — confirmed and named by several outlets 2 weeks ago as testing positive for Covid-19 — has been cleared and is expected to join the Miami Heat to enter the bubble tomorrow, according to multiple Five Reasons Sports sources
Clarke wasn't cleared to resume play when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the Grizzlies' season on March 11. But while he spent his time sheltering in place with video games and friends, he also got to heal and regain his form once the team began voluntary workouts. "Over these past five to six weeks, I've gotten back to the player that I was. I feel like I'm pretty much the same health that I was pre-injury," Clarke said Monday. "I got the same balance and running habits, so it'll all just be about my habits on the court."
Over four months elapsing between the postponement and resumption of the 2019-20 season has certainly felt like a long wait, but it’s felt even longer for Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony. The way he sees it, the restart in Orlando, which is basically an eight-game playoff for a team in Portland’s position in the standings, is a chance to fulfill the potential that prompted the Trail Blazers’ unsuccessful attempt to acquire the 6-9 forward back in 2018. “I'm more excited about actually being in the position that I was supposed to be in a couple years ago with this team,” said Anthony during a Zoom interview Tuesday afternoon. “And having those guys around me and being able to bring something to this team that has kind of just been lingering around for so long. Giving them another option on the perimeter, another scoring threat out there, another guy who can make plays for everybody else.”
Mike Finger: This is not exactly breaking news, but because the question has been asked of some of the league’s other, ahem, venerable coaches: Can confirm Gregg Popovich is officially scheduled to travel with the rest of the Spurs to Florida on Thursday.
Will Guillory: Pelicans assistant Jamelle McMillan will not be joining the team in Orlando, per a team source. He'll stay home to take care of his newborn son. The team fully supports his decision.
Kellan Olson: With the Suns in Orlando, everyone who arrived is required to stay isolated in their rooms until they have two negative PCR tests that are separated by at least 24 hours. Group workouts/practice and such begin on Monday.
Ira Winderman: Per tonight's TNT show, Heat center Meyers Leonard to go with "equality" on the back of his jersey for the start of the NBA resumption at Disney:
Bobby Marks: Nets roster heading to Orlando Chris Chiozza Tyler Johnson Caris LeVert Garrett Temple Jeremiah Martin Justin Anderson Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot Joe Harris Dzanan Musa Rodions Kurucs Jarrett Allen Substitute 1 Substitute 2 Substitute 3
Adrian Wojnarowski: Brooklyn Nets forward Taurean Prince has tested positive for the coronavirus and will sit out the NBA’s restart in Orlando, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Prince is the fourth Nets player – including DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Wilson Chandler – to opt-out of the league’s restart. Nets are eligible to sign four substitute players. Team departed this evening for Orlando.
Nurse knows family time is precious. "It's really another part of the puzzle, and it's a big one," the Raptors coach said on a Zoom call Tuesday from Naples, Fla. "It starts with conversation, when you're bumping into Fred [VanVleet] or Kyle [Lowry], and you're asking them how are the wife and kids, and what are they doing, and when was the last time you talked to them. There's a lot more of that going on than I would say normally would happen... a lot more now because we're all showing pictures and whatever. It's another one of those things you'd be more lenient on. We're getting ready to start a meeting and somebody says 'Oh, man, my kid's FaceTiming me,' and you say 'Take it, go out in the hall and take it, and we'll wait for you."'
When Nurse left his Toronto house for Florida, his three-year-old son Leo said he'd wait for him by the door. "He didn't quite understand how long I'm going to be gone," said Nurse, who has another son Rocky born during last year's thrilling post-season run. "I told him I'm going to coach some games, and he said 'Well, I'm going to wait right here for ya.' I hope he's moved from that spot because it's going to be a while."
Nurse said he feels safe with the NBA's coronavirus protocols. "We are going a long ways out of our way to make it extra safe as we should. We really are in the hotel. We are confined. We are away from everything. There is cleaning all over the place. Everyone is wearing masks. We go to the gym and there's cleaning and we come back. It feels really safe," Nurse said. "I think the early stages or days of the Disney thing are critical. Getting a whole bunch of testing done and getting kind of to a point there. I think it will all be done at a really high level and remain fairly safe. I hope I'm right."
With the NBA season set to resume at the end of July, the Mavericks have a plan. Rather than let their return to play be a distraction from the movement encompassing the nation, they’re working on a unified message. Rather than stay silent on the injustice in the country, they’re using their platform when play resumes at the Walt Disney World Resort to amplify their voices. “I think, first and foremost, as a team, we just have to make sure we’re on the same page to see what we’re going to do when we get to Orlando,” Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said in a Zoom call with reporters Monday. “I’m happy that the season is starting and I’m happy that it’s happening at this time so we can use our platform to express ourselves.”
“That’s what being an athlete and being on one of the biggest stages is all about: expressing yourself,” Hardaway said. “I’m happy that we’re going to be able to so that as a team. I’m pretty sure we’ll talk about that as the days go on, but for now, I’m happy that we’re going to start the season around this time. We want to make sure we use that platform to get our voices heard.”
Peyton Siva is currently back in Florida as well, taking some time off with his family as he celebrates the Basketball Bundesliga League title he and his Alba Berlin teammates won in late June. And while cases have risen lately in the Sunshine State and around the U.S., the top German basketball league reopened the right way last month, Siva said — over the course of three weeks in Munich, none of the players, coaches or hotel staff involved with the 10-team tournament tested positive at any time.
The stakes were high, Siva said, just like they'll be high when NBA players return to the court later this month. But a successful restart, he added, can send a message to the world. "This is a chance to show that basketball can survive through this time — whether that’s with spectators or not," he told The Courier Journal last Thursday, the day after his plane landed back in the U.S.
It was a winning strategy — he came back to the U.S. as a BBL champion, starting at point guard for title-winning Alba Berlin — but he advised NBA players preparing for Orlando to enjoy their time outside the bubble now. Life is different once you're inside. "I feel like it’s going to be a lot tougher for them, since it’s a lot longer season that they’re going to be playing than we had," Siva said. "... Try to get out and do stuff as much as you can because you can get cabin fever staying in a place so long. But I feel like they’ll have a lot more things to do with going outside, going golfing, more entertainment — and plus they can have family come later on. I think that’ll help a lot of the guys."
It was mildly surprising to hear second-year guard Shake Milton take the strongest stance when it came to the NBA's decision to resume the season. “I don't really think we should be playing," Milton said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday, "but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible. My teammates want to play so we're going to go down there and try to win.”
When asked why specifically he thought the league shouldn't resume play, he provided a poignant response. “I think [the spread of the virus], and then also I feel like there's a lot of other stuff going on," Milton said. "There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we're on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don't want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
The sports “bubbles” are also home to experimental new tech and trials of new ways of testing for COVID-19. They might also tell us more about how the virus spreads. “There’s a lot of interest in sports coming back, and they could also be a plan for how we bring back universities, colleges and school safely. It’s the same concept, with a lot of people in close proximity to each other,” says Priya Sampathkumar, an epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic who’s working on an NBA antibody study. “It’s trying it out — if we can’t keep them safe, maybe it’s not safe to open up.”
The closed-off NBA bubble is dedicated to basketball, but it’s also a makeshift COVID-19 research laboratory. The league is helping trial a saliva-based COVID-19 test, and any players who opt in will help the Yale School of Public Health validate their testing method. Players in Orlando will be tested almost every day using the typical method: having a swab shoved deep inside their nose. Players who enroll in the Yale study, though, will also give a saliva sample along with each test. The team will compare the two types of tests and check if the saliva test is as accurate as the nose and throat swab.
The league is putting together a group of experts to think through research approaches to the bubble, Sampathkumar says. “They’re willing to share the data that they come up with, and are asking for input on the type of data they should collect,” she says. The information is important for the league itself because it helps it manage the health and safety of its employees. But learning more about the virus and how it spreads is useful for everyone, not just professional athletes holed up at Disney World. “That could be really valuable information,” Rasmussen says. “And that could be extrapolated to the larger population.”
In a virtual interview with Fortune Brainstorm Health, Silver said the NBA expects more positive coronavirus cases to pop up as teams arrive to the NBA campus at Walt Disney World resort this week. But once teams arrive, all personnel will be tested and must quarantine for at least two days. "We won't be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players test positive," Silver told Fortune Brainstorm Health. "What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we were to have any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue." "... We would know that there's in essence a hole in our bubble or that our quarantine or our campus is not working in some way," Silver added later. "So that would be very concerning."
Silver said the NBA's campus with daily testing and guidance from medical experts is "as protected as possible from the environment around us." "So on paper, and dealing with our experts, this should work," Silver said. "But we shall see. I'm confident based on the positive cases we are seeing from our players and the general public around the country that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus in part because we are going to be doing daily testing. But again this virus has humbled many so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols and we hope it works as we designed it."
Silver reiterated that the league likely will not be forced to shut down again due to one potential positive coronavirus test inside campus. However, a spread could bring the NBA to a halt again. "I think we do have the ability to trace, of course to try to understand where that positive case came from," Silver said of any positive cases inside the Walt Disney World campus. "We can actually analyze the virus itself and try to track whether if there is more than one case, if it's in essence the same virus and same genetic variation of the virus that is passed from one player to another or two people have gotten it on the campus independently. So those are all things that we are looking at."
Malika Andrews: Coach Mike Budenholzer said shutting down the Bucks’ practice facility was “wise” to do. “It’s important we get down there as healthy as possible; and by doing this for a few days before leaving, I feel it’s going to give us our best chance to get to Orlando in a good place.”
Kyle Neubeck: Embiid says he was not a fan of the Orlando restart initially: “I hated the idea. I feel like with everything that’s been going on, it’s unfortunate with what’s going on...all I wanna do is stay safe and stay healthy, keep the people around me safe.”
Derek Bodner: Joel Embiid on restarting the season in Orlando in a bubble: "I'm not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I'm going to do my job. I'm not going to let the city down...I don't like the idea." Embiid says he's not confident in everyone following protocols and being responsible.
August 17, 2022 | 8:47 pm EDT Update
Tommy Beer: Stephen A Smith on SiriumXM w/ @Rick Kamla this afternoon when asked about potential Mitchell deal: “Utah didn’t want Julius Randle, from what I’m told. They don’t want him. The Knicks were willing to unload him. They want RJ Barrett. They want at least 6 1st-round picks.” pic.twitter.com/9Nn7DuwlZe
I knew if we could win Game 3 and go to 3-0, it was pretty much a wrap on the series. It was just a matter of whether [the series would be won] in Game 4 or a “gentleman’s sweep” in Game 5. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, we got a stop, and I was just talking to myself: “Put ‘em to sleep. Put ‘em to sleep.” That was the conversation I was having with myself. Not with anyone else on the team or anyone else in the arena. Then, I had finished that layup underneath Jokic, and that was the thought that came out – just to do the sign. I didn’t say, “Night Night” at the time. I was just telling myself, “Put ‘em to sleep.” Fast forward to Game 5, when I made the last layup to go up five with 19 seconds left. That was the official, “Put them to sleep.” The camera didn’t get me on that one, but I actually said it. Fast forward to Memphis, Dallas and then Boston, and it kind of took on a life of its own.
NDP: How did it feel to break it out again in Boston and seal the Finals win? SC: It felt the best. The way that game went, it was an emotional rollercoaster. They came out just hitting every shot, and they were up double digits in the first four minutes. We slowly just crept back and then went on that 21-nothing run. When we came out in the third quarter, everyone was feeling it. Let’s just step on their throats, right now.
NDP: What’s it been like seeing athletes from sports all around the world doing the celebration? SC: It’s the best, ’cause some are taking it to new extremes that I would never feel comfortable doing in the league. But it’s dope to know how far the reach is. I’ve told people before, “I know there’s people that did the symbol before me.” But to know that you cemented a moment that’s on the biggest of stages, and people are inspired by it and want to have fun with whatever they’re doing with it — they’ve taken their own spin on it and have had some creativity with it.
August 17, 2022 | 7:21 pm EDT Update
CJ Holmes: Here’s all four of the Warriors’ long road trips this season: Oct. 29 – Nov 4: Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans Dec. 13 – 27: Milwaukee, Indiana, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York, Brooklyn Jan 13 – 20: San Antonio, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland
Jason Dumas: Looks like a local artist in the LA area has painted a mural of JTA in Inglewood. It’ll be unveiled to the public tomorrow. I realized how impactful Juan was at the first Mexican-American to win an NBA Finals during the Warriors parade. Cool stuff. pic.twitter.com/rTPdj8Op4c
August 17, 2022 | 5:43 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: The NBA’s new schedule has 55 baseball-style series in which the road team plays the same foe twice in a row without travel … up from 23 last season. Plus 33 instances on the schedule in which the road team stays in LA or New York to play both local teams on the same trip.