When the NBA season resumes later this month in Orlando, one key element of the game night experience for both players and fans will be missing -- the arena entry tunnel walk and spotlight on player's fashion. A new entry protocol finalized at the end of this past week calls for players to "be in uniform and warmups when they arrive" to the game, sources told ESPN.
Players will get dressed in full uniform in their respective hotel rooms at the trio of designated resorts, then board a team bus for an expected fifteen-minute drive to the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World and the HP Field House's primary game court.
With limited apparel flexibility, face masks will also serve as one of the few opportunities for self-expression en route to games. Some players planned ahead, creating customized masks with social justice messages, personal brand logos or hometown area codes. The league has already provided all players and team personnel with face coverings as part of their arrival package in Orlando. A batch of ten co-designed NBA x Stance masks with different prints, logo executions and graphics were waiting for players in their hotel rooms. When arriving for games, players will have the option to wear the league-provided masks, their team-issued face coverings or a face covering of their own choosing.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Asked specifically about Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. and if they are there in Orlando, Michael Malone declined to confirm or deny. Malone only says there are some who still aren't in Orlando.
Eddie Sefko: Luka Doncic said he fishes during downtime in the bubble. Hasn't caught any gators yet, just fish, he said.
Eddie Sefko: Coach Rick Carlisle, J.J. Barea, Seth Curry and Darrell Armstrong have an 8:15 tee time Monday morning in the bubble. First day off for the team since arriving.
Mark Medina: Dwight informed Anthony Davis about the DJ party. AD: "I think Dwight was the only one there." AD said he didn't go because he wasn't aware about it
Kelly Iko: Rockets VP of BBall Ops Rafael Stone to @TheAthletic on the bubble: “It feels like the number one goal was to create the safest way possible. There are no guarantees in life and in the world, but they get an A from me in terms of creating a safe environment.”
Brian Lewis: Recently-added guard Tyler Johnson arrived in Disney and has entered his quarantine period. He can join the #Nets once that has finished. #NBA
Mark Medina: Anthony Davis on what it's like going through quarantine in Orlando: "The protocols aren't that bad. We get tested everyday. It's not any testing that no one can handle or hasn't been exposed to already."
Lakers Nation: Anthony Davis hasn't taken advantage of any amenities yet. "I haven't been doing much. I've been playing video games with some of the guys on the team. Everybody brought their gaming system."
Fred Katz: Disney logistics since we’re all learning: The NBA gives 3-hr practice windows to each team since they’re sharing facilities. If a team wants to have a day off, that might be reflected in their schedule but it’s not like the NBA knows when it tells them the time they have the gym . These are boring logistics. But that’s why the language was misleading with the Wizards technically “canceling” a practice they were never scheduled to have. They’ll be back on the court tomorrow
Jared Weiss: Cs practice was moved again today. Yesterday they had a truncated timeslot and today, Brad Stevens said they had to change gyms. 3 teams had to cancel their practice today for unknown reasons. Stevens said it's not a big deal, citing when the bus breaks down on the road.
Tania Ganguli: Dwight Howard and Danny Green are expected to be at practice this evening with the Lakers. Both were unable to practice yesterday. Howard, because he had to take one more test than the rest of the team, and Green because of a glitch with his testing.
Jason Jones: Look who’s getting on a plane ... Buddy Hield https://www.instagram.com/stories/buddylove242/2351718212167415294/?utm_source=ig_story_item_share&igshid=1wvb58vceuos0
Marc J. Spears: Flying cross-country to Orlando for the #NBA re-start reporting for @TheUndefeated and @espn. Quarantine than NBA bubble.
Pete Pranica: Taylor Jenkins notes that one of the big challenges is the constant variances in schedule when dealing with timing of meals, testing, training, etc. but says the NBA has kept everyone well-informed and organized.
All 22 teams in the NBA restart had to pack more than ever, for a road trip like none other. Every team is assured of spending at least five weeks at Disney, and some could be there for three months. The challenges for players and coaches are obvious, but the challenge for equipment managers - among the unsung heroes of this restart plan - aren't anywhere near as visible to those watching games from afar. ''This is what equipment managers were built for, honestly,'' Orlando Magic equipment manager Jacob Diamond said. ''We have some of the smartest guys around the league that do what I do and at the end of the day, for us, it's really no job too big, no job too small. Our coaches are relying on us, our players, and this is history right here. So, it's kind of cool to be a part of it - even though it's extra work.''
Toronto Raptors equipment manager Paul Elliott prides himself on typically taking only what he needs. He tends to take 45 bags on a standard road trip; by NBA standards, that is packing light. Not this time. For this trip, Elliott's count was 176 bags. And while most teams only had to move their operation once - from their home facility to Disney - Elliott had to pack the Raptors up twice, first from Toronto to their pre-camp workouts at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, and then again to get the stuff up to Disney. ''I looked at it as what they were going to take for a two-week Western road trip, took what I would usually pack for that, and kind of quadrupled it,'' Elliott said. ''I just had to make sure I had enough options for these guys to accommodate them when they need. I just want to be prepared.''
The Disney World bubble created by the NBA confined players to their hotel rooms for two days, although for McCollum there was seemingly enough to keep him busy. Witnessing players endure the uncomfortable coronavirus testing process has, meanwhile, been a light note to the situation. "Something that made me laugh, seeing people's reactions to the swab, the Covid test we've been doing for a while but it's always funny to see grown men shedding tears," said McCollum.
CJ McCollum: "I've enjoyed my time in the hotel room, it was therapeutic. We've all got cellular devices so we were able to reach out to our loved ones. I've got books, I've got video games, I've got wine, so I'm in a good space. Something that will stick with me. I think perspective. You've got a better appreciation for life, especially after you spend 48 hours in your hotel. You appreciate the little things a lot more. You appreciate relationships and situations you're in. You also appreciate outdoors a lot more."
The five-time All-Star believes the league's resumption will expose those who have not been working behind-the-scenes during lockdown. "I've been seeing guys coming in and out, working out hard in the weight room and pretty much staying ready," he said. "Once they let us know when we were going to be playing and what the whole format was everybody took it up a level there and then. When we got out on the floor nobody was out of shape, nobody was moving slow, nobody was bent over the whole time. It felt like everybody did what they should be doing to be ready to come in and hit the ground and go.”
Ira Winderman: Jae Crowder, on Heat's team room at Disney, "That's our safe haven. That's where we all get together and talk it out." Said team watched UFC there on Saturday night. Said having family photos on walls is particularly comforting.
Marc Stein: After an even 120 nights in a row at home -- personal record since 1993 -- it's time to go Bubble ... Seven consecutive days in quarantine without leaving the Walt Disney World room starts later this evening
Mark Medina: About to enter the NBA campus in Orlando. Will be tested this afternoon and then in quarantine for a week 🙏
Taylor Rooks: I’ve officially entered quarantine - among the media members living in the actual bubble. Can’t leave room for 7 days, testing everyday. I’m a little nervous, but the NBA is taking all necessary steps. This is a historic thing to be a part of. Looking forward to sharing content
Eric Koreen: NBA says Clippers, Wizards and Suns all canceled team practices today. No reason given. Can assume they were just days off until told otherwise.
Andrew Greif: Re: no practice today for the Clippers — it’s an off day for players. Some players might get some shots up individually but there’s no organized team practice. It’s expected they’ll be back on the court tomorrow for practice.
Eric Woodyard: Pacers Coach Nate McMillan says there’s no restrictions on how they’re using Victor Oladipo in practices, although he isn’t playing in Orlando. Victor has been on all the practice teams and still playing regularly. “He’s been going hard,” McMillan said.
The NBA is also supporting testing research through partnerships with the Yale School of Public Health and the Mayo Clinic, among others. MLB said it is offering free COVID-19 tests and antibody tests to health care workers and first responders in its home cities. And BioReference said in a news release it is working with MLS to provide antibody tests for the public in Orlando. Despite those good-faith efforts, sports risk losing the battle of perception as long as athletes are receiving multiple tests in a virtual bubble, while citizens in hard-hit areas wait in their cars or long lines for hours, often in vain, for the same test. "I think sports in general will be an easy target to say, why are we doing this?" said Roberts. "But you could say that about a hundred things. You don’t need your nails done. You don’t need your tacos. But those are obviously part of the economy."
Tania Ganguli: To clarify on the Lakers' testing situation, Dwight Howard needs an extra test because he did not travel with the team so that's why he was not available today. Danny Green's test had an error and there should be more clarity on his situation later tonight.
Coach Doc Rivers confirmed Saturday that the Clippers' All-Star forward did arrive at the Walt Disney World Resort as expected after Leonard was excused by the team to tend to a family matter when the Clippers flew to Orlando on Wednesday. "Kawhi, he is here, he is going through the protocol," Rivers said. He will be quarantining for two days.
Mark Berman: Houston graphic artist Terence Tang (@tinlunstudio)designed special shoes for #Rockets guard @Ben McLemore to wear in Orlando: “I’ve wanted to do sneaker art for NBA players for a really long time..To have it convey such a strong & meaningful message,that’s just icing on the cake” pic.twitter.com/aGR9tBRnun
Ohm Youngmisuk: Denver coach Michael Malone said Nikola Jokic "will be in the bubble very very soon and excited to see him." No new arrivals yet today for the Nuggets among those who have yet to make it to Orlando but Malone said he expects a big arrival from Europe shortly.
James Ham: Two of the Kings players who tested positive early on have had two consecutive clean tests and are heading to Orlando. Walton would not confirm who those players are.
Sean Cunningham: De'Aaron Fox, one of the NBA's biggest video gamers, applauded the WiFi efforts in the Orlando bubble environment that was boosted, despite experiencing several lags while playing and the amount of people using it.
“My wife changed my diet a few years ago, and that was huge,’’ Crawford said in explaining his longevity. “And I’m just staying in love with the game. I didn’t turn 40. I turned 20 twice.’’ COVID-19 research states Crawford could be at more risk than his younger mates. Following NBA rules, he is in the middle of a six-day quarantine in Orlando before he can be cleared for practice Wednesday.
Cayleigh Griffin: Tucker says his hotel room is his home for the next 3 months, so he wanted to make it feel as home, which is why he had the 85 inch TV delivered. He said it's "perfect."
Jonathan Feigen: MDA: "Every coach has to be excited now. It's like training camp again." Earlier said, "I'm excited because I know what we can do. And being around these guys is infectious -- no pun intended."
Jovan Buha: Doc Rivers says he doesn’t know the plan with Kawhi Leonard’s minutes and work load yet. He says everyone is fully healthy now. “I think it’ll be different now because of that,” Rivers said.
Mike Trudell: Frank Vogel said “The NBA has done a great job” in getting everything ready for him to be able to prepare his team to play basketball. All of the facilities are as expected for practice/film/hotel and so on.
Mike Trudell: Vogel on getting players ready: “We still have a lot of time. We have to be intelligent with that. Watching our guys work out last week, we put them through some pretty rigourous 1-on-1 work, and they seem to be in decent shape.” (They’re going to get full-court work in today)
Lakers Nation: JaVale McGee on Orlando experience so far: "I just think it's pretty cool this is our first day out of the rooms. Everybody is in good health, good spirits. We're just ready to get back to it."
Shams Charania: Live DJ sets poolside for players on NBA’s Disney campus for the first weekend, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.: - DJ Nasty at Gran Destino/Corondao Springs - DJ Jay R at Grand Floridian - DJ ET at Yacht Club
Kellan Olson: Jevon Carter said the NBA is allowing them to use the court later on at night if they'd like. Players coordinate with staff and such to get that worked out. In no surprise, Carter said he's going back to his room for a quick nap after practice then he will be back tonight.
Tim Reynolds: LeBron James never considered not playing "this beautiful game" and sitting out the restart, even with all that's gone on the world, he just said.
Lakers Nation: LeBron: "Just getting acclimated. We got here Thursday night, went through all the COVID protocols, security protocols, and tonight is our first practice. Looking forward to getting on the floor with my teammates."
Brandon Rahbar: Steven Adams says he can play a few chords on his guitar to keep him entertained, but he can’t compose music. Also mystery solved on what was in the plastic bags: he brought a couple batches of lasagna.
Kelly Oubre: To all my @NBA Bro’s. Postmates delivers to the hotel !!! You just have to go out and meet the delivery person at the hotel entrance. Security will not hold the food for you or help you. Yeah the food wack but we here for a bigger purpose, hope that helps... #Shhh
Thybulle posted a vlog on Saturday of the Sixers’ trip, documenting their flight to Orlando and early hours in quarantine. The players have since cleared the initial mandated quarantine and returned to practice Saturday for the first time since March 10.
Josh Lewenberg: The Raptors just finished their first practice in more than 4 months. Fred VanVleet said they played a bit of 5-on-5. They were a bit rusty, as expected, and will take some time to get their conditioning back, "but other than that everybody looked good"
Ryan Wolstat: Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was thankful everyone passed their tests. Said team looked pretty good. Obviously some rust, but a "really good jumping off point" as a starting point for his team.
Chris Haynes: Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard indeed arrived in Orlando last night for the restart, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
“What we are going to have is a lot of virtual fans, believe it or not,” Gentry said. “It will help the environment in the arena as far as the players and them playing without real fans in the stands. I think the communication part will be a lot of easier because we won’t have the 20,000 fans in the stands. It will be all new to everyone, so we’re just going to have to see.”
Once play resumes July 30, Lonzo Ball said he felt New Orleans will continue being vocal, in part because the conditions will demand it. “It’s going to force us to talk,” Ball said. “There’s no excuses if you don’t hear somebody when it’s just us out there. I do think it will be a little bit different playing with no fans.”
Chris Grenham: The Celtics will have their third practice at noon tomorrow at The Arena, the same venue as today's workout. The Orlando Magic will practice simultaneously at The Arena's other set of practice courts.
Royce Young: Gregg Popovich (71 years old) on if he had any reservations in making the trip to the Orlando bubble, said he felt very assured after speaking with Adam Silver on the precautions: "I don't know where else you would be as safe as we are right now."
Tania Ganguli: The Lakers are in the process of clearing quarantine and will have practice (!) later this afternoon. Their first real practice in four months.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Wizards' rookie Rui Hachimura said he will try to kill some of the free time on campus in Orlando by learning as much as he can about taxes, citing that he has to pay taxes both in Japan and the US. Smart rookie.
Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra says a key in Orlando is to plan for the unexpected, "You better be flexible. You can have a great plan." He does not address specific players missing, but said the pandemic makes it essential to have Plan Bs.
Ira Winderman: Andre Iguodala, on NBA restart plan, "You know the NBA is going to make a way, and if they're going to do it, they're going to do it the right way."
Walton said it is expected that all will pass the NBA protocol in place, which includes two negative COVID-19 test results before rejoining the team in Florida. “We’re still in the protocol,” Walton said during a Zoom media session on Friday afternoon. “I’m not going to get into names, I’ll make that a personal decision, but from the travel party, out of the 35 (member travel party for Orlando), we left four people back. From those four, nobody has passed NBA protocol yet to rejoin us, but we are hopeful that some of them are getting close.” It is known that three Kings players have tested positive for coronavirus over the past several weeks. Buddy Hield, Alex Len, Jabari Parker, as well as a fourth unidentified member of the team.
In the meantime, as the Jazz get acclimated to team basketball once again, both Ingles and Mitchell said they’re trying to find ways to settle into a unique situation. “I mean, honestly, for me, it’s like AAU, really. You know, except for the quarantine part. But it’s been like AAU — I’ve been just relaxing, studying film, and just trying to eat as good as I possibly can,” Mitchell said. “… I’m just staying mentally ready, mentally engaged because I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had practice at 6 o’clock every night. It gives you that feeling of an AAU summer camp or a summertime vibe.”
Upon seeing all this and the execution by the NBA in the first three days, Williams is a full-on believer now. “The NBA has gone above and beyond to give us every chance to be successful,” Williams said. “When you get here and see all the stuff, it’s actually pretty impressive.” The coach said Friday was the first day the Suns saw members of other teams around the complex. Some teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, just arrived and are still undergoing the quarantining the Suns have already wrapped up. “Today, you didn’t have to be in your hotel room all day,” Williams said. “I got out, walked around the lake.”
While it’s true that the NBA has a likely ally in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, you never quite know where the political winds might shift. A couple of phone calls shuts the NBA’s business down, as so many businesses have been shut down around the country. I had Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on my podcast and he made a point that few others have made: Silver has been fairly politically neutral of late, despite his reputation as the progressive commissioner. The theory Abbott espoused was that this has something to do with the NBA needing allies in government to make this bubble a reality. Many NBA players (and fans) might hate President Donald Trump, but Silver can’t afford to be seen as a Trump enemy right now. As mentioned before, the federal government has the power to undermine the NBA’s operation.
Eric Woodyard: Jazz's Joe Ingles said the first "48 hours sucked" of being in the Orlando bubble. "When you're in the room for a couple months, it's going to get stanky at times." Says he was with his kids/family 48 hours before this, but the protocol leading up to clearance was "frustrating."