Siakam, whose meteoric rise was culminated by his first All-NBA selection this season, also endured notable struggles. With his increased responsibilities came increased scrutiny, and his postseason play (17.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 39% shooting) fell well below the regular-season standards he had set in 2019-20. Opposing players and coaches who have since left the bubble noted privately that Siakam seemed particularly out of sorts in Orlando, both on and off the floor.
While in the bubble, Nurse spoke openly of the angst his players and coaches and front-office personnel experienced being away from their families for so long. But it wasn't until he attempted to reacclimate to his daily life that he completely understood the gravity of the disconnect. Nurse's 3-year-old son, Leo, solemnly vowed to remain at the door, waiting, when Nurse departed for Orlando in July. His son Rocky, who was born during his father's magical Finals run last June, was too young to articulate anything. "When I got back home," Nurse said, "the kids were in the neighborhood playing. Leo saw me from the top of the hill and did a dead sprint into my arms for a 5½-minute hug. But when I grabbed Rocky, he looked at me like, 'Hey man, put me down. Who are you?'"
And if an athletic trainer, coach or inactive player isn't wearing their mask properly during the game, league security will walk over to their huddle during a timeout and correct them. It is the pesky rules that make the bubble possible. And several league executives have noted that players and coaches who have been eliminated and left the bubble have called and texted to say that they miss the safety of the campus.
When NBA officials worked with folks on the ground in Orlando, Florida, during the planning stages for the bubble, there was a central question, according to Dunlap: "What can we offer these guys for several months so they're not going crazy in their rooms?" Various outdoor entertainment options were lined up. Fishing was a hit. Pickleball became a daily pastime for referees. Cornhole boards and oversize Connect Four games were placed by the pool. Perhaps the most popular activity throughout, however, has been bike riding. "Our fleet has grown," Dunlap said, detailing how the resort beefed up its bicycle haul by bringing in 10-speed bikes from an outside vendor to have about 50 available to its temporary residents.
Through the Denver Nuggets' playoff run, they would sign out a dozen bikes at a time and go on team rides. "I don't know if they would do it for conditioning or just to relax," Dunlap said. When players' families arrived, the resort made sure there were baby seats available to rent. Dunlap estimated that most days 100 percent of the bikes were signed out -- leading to competition for resources.
That is where the ownership groups for both the Lakers and Heat -- as well as additional guests for each team -- have spent the past week during the NBA Finals. At a hotel near Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, these two competing sides -- like the teams that also are sharing the bubble -- find themselves awkwardly close together for the duration of the series. "It's beyond words," said Bernie Lee, the agent for Heat star Jimmy Butler. "I'm sitting and having lunch with [Miami president Pat Riley] and [general manager Andy Elisburg]," Lee said, "and 10 feet away from us is the entire Laker leadership."
Salman Ali: The Houston Rockets have raised nearly $100,000 for COVID-19 relief since May. They plan on auctioning off unique memorabilia from their time in the Orlando bubble including game-worn jerseys, shorts, and shoes from Eric Gordon, James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Russell Westbrook.
Tim Bontemps: Doc Rivers on what happened with the Clippers: "This year, let's just start with COVID. This has been a tough year for everybody. The bubble is not a normal experience, but I'm glad it's an experience the NBA created. We wouldn't be crowning a champion this year without it."
Marc Stein: Adam Silver on @NBATV: "Nobody's tested positive who lives on this campus, but we've had positive tests in our vicinity ... We still have another week or so to go before we can really say we did it. Every night ... I am sort of (braced) for that call to say, 'We have an issue' "
Spruell was responsible for overseeing the development of the league’s competitive format of 22 teams, which included individual workouts at team facilities, travel to the bubble, team practices, scrimmages, seeding games, postseason play-in games and the traditional playoffs. He led orientation sessions with players, head coaches and staff from all 22 participating teams and the officiating staff. And he said he has had well over 100 meetings over the past several months, including with all 30 NBA general managers, representatives from the players association and the competition advisory group. Spruell, who is third in command behind commissioner Adam Silver and incumbent deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, was also the highest-ranking NBA official on-site when the Milwaukee Bucks decided to not play in a playoff game on Aug. 26 to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in their state of Wisconsin. The Bucks’ decision resulted in the other remaining teams not playing over three days.
What has been your biggest triumph? Byron Spruell: The play-in tournament, if I’m being honest with you. We had gone through a lot of planning on the future of the game and what certain elements would look like. Reseeding, different ways to look at conference realignment, all those things. And one of those things that was in that sort of future of the game, if we could get it done, was a play-in tournament. So, to see that sort of come back around and to be part of this and be historic in terms of the first one and the way it played out with the [Portland] Trail Blazers … that was pretty cool, knowing the backdrop.
In the history of basketball, I think this NBA bubble is an inflection point. I was wondering what you've made of it as a former player and as a viewer. Scottie Pippen: Well, I'm going to be honest. It's not NBA basketball. It's not the hard grind. It's not the travel. It's not the fans. It's not the distractions. Really, to me, it's pickup basketball. It's going to the gym. Yeah, you already got your team. Y'all practicing together. But it's a more of a pickup type of basketball game, because there's no fans in the stands. So there is no distraction. There's no real noise. There's no pressure on the players, you know. Prime example: I looked at Rondo. Rondo ain't made three pointers in his whole NBA career. Now, all of a sudden, he's in a bubble, he's probably a 50% three point shooter. I haven't even checked the stats.
Scottie Pippen: But that's just something that I consider making the game so easy, because Rondo can't score inside of an arena, when you got depth perception. Like, there's a whole lot of things that make the NBA hard. The bubble makes the NBA easy to me. There's no travel. That's the killer itself. So you're sleeping in the same bed every night. You're walking to the gym. You're not having to go with a 25 to 50 minute bus ride to an arena. You're not having to probably even sit in the arena for two hours before the game, talk to the media, deal with all the outside stuff that they're trying to pull you in to make some distraction and, you know, throw the team in a loop. So it's a different game, but it's very entertaining.
Silver, who has managed to maintain such strong ties with the NBA’s player community throughout his tenure that began in Feb. 2014, left his seat to go pay a visit to the NBPA executive director who has been here in the bubble since the very beginning, Michele Roberts. As Silver kneeled down next to Roberts as she sat in her folding chair, the mutual respect between them was unmistakable. They hugged, with Silver putting both of his hands into the handshake as they shared a laugh. It was only a minute or so, but it was telling.
Yet Williams ushered it through from start to finish, despite skepticism throughout much of Disney. Williams then oversaw the complex during its early years, helping it become successful. “His role can’t be underestimated,” says CBS Sports football analyst Charles Davis, who worked at the Wide World of Sports from 1996-2000, first as a manager tasked with bringing business to the complex. “To me, without Reggie, none of this ever happens.
Kyle Goon: Adam Silver said in May, when he talked about putting together a bubble with Disney exec Bob Iger, he thought it was a "pipe dream," and he resisted it for a time because he didn't think it could work and it wasn't his idea.
Doug Smith: Adam Silver singles out three players for making the bubble work: Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and Dwight Powell. There are many others but those were the players he mentioned in pre-Finals media session
Brad Townsend: Silver: "There are 6,500 people in this community in Orlando who have been servicing this complex." He compares it to the credits you see after a movie, the people involved in making the movie happen.
Mirjam Swanson: Frank Vogel says 85 days in the bubble -- "a remarkable setup" -- "has not been harder than I thought it would be ... I miss my family dearly, but I really enjoy the group of guys we have. It's been all basketball -- which is just fine with me." Says winning helps, too.
Ken says he has talked to son Kelly on the phone about the whole ‘bubble’ playoff experience. “[Kelly] says it’s been great for the team to build chemistry and bring the team together. He says the teams that are the toughest mentally are the ones doing well. Disney World is right out their window, of course they can’t go. They are just focused on the job,” Ken added.
Tatum, who welcomed all 22 teams to Disney World with orientation sessions in July and has lived in the bubble for the past two weeks, similarly had no interest in a victory lap. “We’ve been able to demonstrate a model for how you could operate a business successfully in the pandemic,” Tatum said in a telephone interview Monday. “We’re very proud of that. We’re excited to get where we are, but we still have work to do. The virus is so unpredictable that we can’t have anybody let their guards down. That’s important for us to collectively reinforce. We’re trying to crown an NBA champion, and we have one more series to go. We owe it to the teams, the players, the staff and the employees who have sacrificed so much. We’ve continued to be vigilant.”
Their war of attrition continues as the bubble around them shrinks. According to league figures, the campus at full capacity received 700 incoming packages per day at its distribution warehouse and needed at least 115 charter buses and vans to transport players, media members and staffers. In total, bubble attendees accounted for approximately 106,000 hotel room nights and went on at least 525 guided lake fishing trips, while players and coaches participated in more than 3,600 virtual media interviews.
But the party is winding down. The Lakers’ elimination of the Nuggets ended TNT’s coverage of the playoffs and prompted a boisterous poolside shindig that lasted past 4 a.m. With fewer games to officiate, the deep referee corps has dwindled. The on-site barbers report that business remains brisk: They have far fewer clients, but the remaining players stop by more frequently because they want to look their best for the larger television audiences watching the biggest games.
The enormousness of the task was incomprehensible. The league would build a campus outside of Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World to host 22 NBA teams and hundreds of others for as long as four months. That campus would need to abide by airtight medical protocols to prevent the invasion of the most aggressive pandemic in a century. It also would need to provide an infrastructure to accommodate a massive basketball operation that normally exists across nearly two dozen state-of-the-art training facilities. Official regular-season games resumed on July 30, but the true restart of the season took place more than a month before, as the league hurried to construct this city.
Kelly Flatow, the executive vice president and head of events at the NBA and a 10-year veteran of the league, has organized some of the biggest spectacles in sports, including the league's All-Star Weekend. But the so-called bubble resides in an entirely different logistical universe for an entirely different length of time under an entirely unprecedented amount of scrutiny.
The health and medical specifications were priority No. 1 for the league. Players and team staff would spend two days quarantined in their hotel rooms and be tested for the virus daily. A precious few essential personnel would have access to the playing court. But in addition to adherence to the strict protocols, the success and execution of the remainder of the season and playoffs would depend on hundreds of granular tasks.
The latest guest on Load Management was Kevin Garnett. You may have missed or mentally filed away the post from earlier but, hey, fortunately there's no expiration here. Amongst several topics discussed (more on that in a sec) the NBA legend talked about, as ex-players often do, the generational difference of today's game versus the era in which he played. More relevantly to 2020, he said that his generation couldn't have handled the league's current bubble because things were just a little more heated in his day.
"To be honest y'all, we could never play in the bubble," Garnett said. "You know how much I've been screaming during your shot 'Get that shit out of here'? You could've heard me in here. Man they'd of had a bunch of censors. Couldn't have all these cameras, you know, players walking around naked, balls swinging all type thing. That's a different league. We were men, yo."
From there he continued on the theme of how things would've been more entertaining combustible if the pandemic had hit a little earlier. "We out here talking to each other," he went on. "We trying to figure out the pick and roll. We ain't switching, you know, it was just totally different. It [would have] been barbaric. We could have never been in a situation like this. It would've been chaotic (...) It would've been very difficult to put my timing and the guys that I played with and against into a bubble like this and have us not be like — we was high competitors. Everybody's competing. Everybody's damn near fighting every other play."
Katy Winge: Guys I just watched a video of one of the Nuggets’ assistant coach’s instagrams...the team arrived back in Denver and all the kids and families were there with signs to greet them and hug them after 80+ days and I don’t know who is cutting onions but they won’t stop
Harrison Wind: Michael Malone pregame on being in the bubble: "I feel like Bill Murray. I wake up and it's Groundhog Day, the same thing over and over again."
Tim Reynolds: If you’re wondering if the conference finals and NBA Finals will have trophy ceremonies after clinches, the NBA says they will. How they’ll compare to past years, with most team executives and others who’d be part of such moments not “in the bubble,” I have no idea.
On Tuesday, the NBA scored a lot of points with fans of animal rescue. During Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, the broadcast cut to 28 dogs and two kittens and their fosters filling virtual courtside seats, with an announcement that they were all “100% adoptable and 100% adorable” and a link to learn more about adopting them. The pets are being fostered by families around the country for Best Friends Animal Society and the nonprofit’s rescue partners.
Katy Winge: Coach Malone just told us it’s him and his wife’s anniversary today, and one of his daughter’s birthday’s today. He said wished them a happy anniversary/birthday last night after the game. The Nuggets have been in the bubble for 80+ days now.
One of the things you either love or hate about the NBA is the relative lack of variance in who wins and loses. In the main, the best teams tend to win in the playoffs, and the same teams can win multiple championships in a few years. When that doesn’t happen, it stands out. And that’s why so many were shocked when the Clippers went out in the second round in Orlando, blowing a 3-1 series lead to Denver in the Western Conference semis. We asked Silver if one could extrapolate things that have happened in Orlando in these playoffs, or if everything in the bubble is so unique and not likely to be repeated when and if the NBA returns to “normal” that it has to be viewed as a one-off. Despite the hyper-competitiveness of NBA players, and proven commodities like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, something happened to them way beyond the norm of back-and-forth playoff basketball. Silver wonders if Bubble Life didn’t, in some way, adversely impact the heavily favored Clippers. “Something seemed wrong there,” he said, adding that the self-generated hunger of a team might matter more in the antiseptic atmosphere of the bubble than in an arena full of your home fans.
“Okay, I’m going to give a really stupid analogy,” Silver said. “I’ve played a couple of times in the World Series of Poker. And what’s weird about the World Series of Poker is that the final event, which is the main event, lasts for like 10 or 12 days, right – if you make it. Most people drop out, you know half of the players drop out every day. When you’re playing that tournament, and you’re like, ‘Okay, maybe I’ve been here in Vegas for a week,’ and Vegas, even if you’re not playing poker, going crazy, it’s still like, a week feels like a month. And you’re like, ‘If I bust out of the tournament, then I can get out of this bubble in Vegas – not a literal bubble, right – and go back to my life in New York, and get all this work done, see my friends, and whatever else, go to the restaurants I like in New York, get back to my apartment.’ And it makes you play worse. ‘Cause you’re kind of like, ‘Okay, I have the option of, like, I’m a little bit tired of this now, I can get back to my life.'”
What’s your read on why the Pelicans didn’t make the playoffs? Redick: "We had a consistent stretch from the week before Christmas for about a month or so. Then we were basically a .500 team after that. Then the season ended. We never really got into a rhythm in the bubble. Certainly Zion having to leave with his family, we weren’t able to get into a rhythm as a team. We also had our opportunities in the bubble. We had a couple of games that we didn’t close out. (Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations) David Griffin said, 'Success in the bubble is going to be predicated on who actually wants to be there the most.' I’m not knocking our team. But if you look at the four teams in the conference finals, those are the teams that for the most part wanted to be there. We really embraced this. You’ve certainly seen that with Miami. It seems like those guys were built for this environment."
Amongst several topics discussed (more on that in a sec) the NBA legend talked about, as ex-players often do, the generational difference of today's game versus the era in which he played. More relevantly to 2020, he said that his generation couldn't have handled the league's current bubble because things were just a little more heated in his day. "To be honest y'all, we could never play in the bubble," Garnett said. "You know how much I've been screaming during your shot 'Get that shit out of here'? You could've heard me in here. Man they'd of had a bunch of censors. Couldn't have all these cameras, you know, players walking around naked, balls swinging all type thing. That's a different league. We were men, yo."
"We're under a different league now," Garnett said. "And you know what? I'm going to be honest with y'all. I'll probably get some shit for this, but no trainer's going to tell me how long I'm playing. Once I'm out here, I'm out here. If I could play, I'm playing. Y'all pay me to play, so shut the fuck up and let me hoop. And that was the end of the discussion. There ain't no more talking."
Mark Medina: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on CNN to Bob Costas about the NBA bubble: "It's working out so far. But my favorite emoji has been the 'fingers crossed' one."
Jay King: Brad Stevens said having a four-day break “feels a little eerie” in the bubble. Said it feels empty now after so many teams have been eliminated.
Barry Jackson: ... Iguodala said today has been a "really [expletive] day" but he's had more good days than bad days in bubble and reiterates "we're built for this environment. It's brought this team even closer together."
Iguodala is a regular golfer, but golf inside the bubble takes on a new meaning. It is a release in an environment where there are not many ways to escape. “I only golf in between series. During a series, no,” Iguodala told USA TODAY Sports. “I hurt my ankle in the Milwaukee series. I didn’t see outside for like five days. I seriously had bad thoughts in my brain.”
One day, Rivers asked a course employee which player was playing the most golf. Rivers thought for sure it was Smith, an avid golfer who will tune into a golf tournament on his iPad in the locker room after a day game. “Without a thought, he said, ‘Oh, Millsap by a long shot. … It’s not even close,’ ” Rivers said. “So during the game or before the game we were laughing because I asked him (Millsap) did he play yesterday, and he goes, ‘Oh, yeah, I got out there.’ I said, ‘When do you have time?’ I don't know how he's doing it, but he's doing it.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was hesitant to praise Hayward for his sacrifice partly because he learned about the revelation through the media instead of directly. "If he wants to go back for the birth of his child, that takes priority," Stevens said. "That's his decision and it's, you know, I want to leave it at that. That's his decision."
Rachel Nichols: Hayward told me his wife Robyn isn't in active labor yet, but she's progressed thru enough pre-labor stages that the baby could come at any time, from tonight to the next few days. He doesn't have his phone on the bench with him (per NBA rules) but will be checking it at the half
Rachel Nichols: Gordon Hayward was originally supposed to leave the Bubble for the birth of his fourth child, but since he just got a bunch of unexpected time with his family due to his injury, he told me the current plan is to stay with the Celtics for as far as they go.
Marc J. Spears: NBA commissioner Adam Silver is expected to be in the Bubble next week, sources tell @TheUndefeated.
In an attempt to continue it’s season, the NBA looked for a home where the basketball season could safely continue — Which ended up being at Walt Disney World Resort. @ScottGustin has now confirmed the barricades at Disney’s Grand Floridian are down and ITM was there to confirm it.
Jay King: It’s starting to get weird that, in a bubble, the Celtics haven’t won a “home game” since the first round. Five straight “home” losses. Four straight “road” wins. I wish I were smart enough to calculate the odds of such strangeness.
Ira Winderman: Micky Arison and Nick Arison have joined Pat Riley in the bubble viewing area at Disney. Not in the full-quarantine bubble, but viewing from an elevated area at Wide World of Sports arena.
Andrew Bernstein scored his first NBA gig as a photographer at the 1983 All-Star Game. Over the course of 37 years, he has served as team photographer for Los Angeles teams like the Clippers, Dodgers, Kings and, more famously, the Lakers. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the NBA season for more than four months, Bernstein was forced to be anywhere but the hardwood. Now as both the Clippers and Lakers are in the midst of an NBA Finals run, Bernstein is on the floor in Orlando covering the sport he knows best.
What does your day-to-day look like in the bubble right now? Andrew Bernstein: It’s a little bit like Groundhog Day — you have to check your phone or your calendar to make sure what day it is. I just realized it’s the first day of September, so that’s another month. The day kind of starts off with me trying to get a little bit of a workout in, and then we all have to get tested. First thing in the morning, we test each other. We test ourselves in the room with an oxygen [device] and a thermometer that’s hooked into an app that’s fed back to the central area where they monitor all of us. We have to go actually physically to a room to get a nasal and throat swab every single day. That’s how they keep it safe and they keep all of us healthy.
Andrew Bernstein: This is still NBA basketball, no matter where it’s played or how it’s presented. The importance of the games is going to ratchet up as we get from one round to the next to the next, so I do feel a playoff atmosphere. You don’t have the fans and you don’t have all that energy in the arena, but in terms of the gains and the competitiveness, that’s still the same as it’s always been, and it’s going to get more intense as we get further into the playoffs. I love documenting that and that I get to be a part of that.
Seana’s (pronounced Shawna’s) is just one of a handful of local, Black- and Latinx-owned restaurants that have been league-approved to deliver into the NBA’s bubble and just part of a delicious smorgasbord of culinary options. Among other restaurant and catering choices, chef Shawn Loving was brought into Disney World from Detroit and provides food to teams and players as the general manager of the Executive Chef Kitchen. In August, he told the Detroit Free Press, his kitchen made 120–140 meals a day. Chef Alexia Grant, who is also the personal chef for Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, operated a pop-up Comfort Kitchen by Lex Grant restaurant in Disney, and provided breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch options to bubble attendees.
In restarting the league in Orlando, both players and those in the league office emphasized the importance of supporting businesses owned by people of color. Food is just one way they’ve done so. “It’s given me hope again,” says Dannie Justin, the owner of Justins Caribbean Fusion Restaurant.
On Aug. 3, the Dallas Mavericks became the first team to try Seana’s cooking. Among other details of their meal, they ordered 250 wings, 100 fried shrimp, at least a half-dozen oxtail dishes and plenty of mac and cheese. They enjoyed the restaurant’s food so much that Johnson says Dallas ordered at least five additional times before leaving the bubble. Molina says the Pelicans placed her biggest order yet—dining on flavorful Cuban and Tripleta sandwiches, among other sandwich types, and a variety of homemade empanadas. She’s served most teams, including the Celtics, 76ers and Lakers. Like with the general public, Sofrito’s churrasco steak has been her most popular seller to NBA players (though, Dominican Republic native Al Horford was especially fond of Molina’s patacon).
In the conference semifinals, capped off by the Clippers’ utter collapse, the home team went just 5-19 (.208), losing each game on average by 3.5 points. Five and 19! At one point, the home team lost nine straight games. Yes, the home team -- the one with virtual fans plastered on giant screens and home-curated audio recordings that blare from the speakers.
Dwight Howard spoke for the first time Wednesday in nearly a month. He acknowledged that being confined to the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World has been very challenging for him. "There’s really nothing to do," Howard said. "If I can be honest with you, there’s nowhere to go, there’s no way to release anything. Any feeling that you might have, it’s just like we’re stuck."
Howard was asked if he ever thought about leaving and going home. "I'll speak about some of the things at a later date," he said. "But right now, the focus is on us winning this championship, and what I can do to help this team win. Obviously, coming in, I felt like, 'don't do anything that would be a distraction.' But at the present time, I'll save those comments to a later date."
When asked about his mindset at the time, Howard said that topic is no longer pertinent. "Right now, the only thing that matters is Denver," he said. "That situation is behind us, so we're just looking forward to this first game on Friday."
Ben Golliver: Clippers’ Lou Williams on bubble life after elimination: “I haven’t seen my 2 daughters in 68 days. I know the exact amount of time I hadn’t seen them. When you deal w/ that type of stuff & you’re in a controlled environment, you’re thankful you’re safe but it can be taxing.”
Chris Mannix: These Disney floors have been slippery. Ball kids had been using mops for most of the restart. Now they are cleaning up wet spots with towels, an NBA mandated change.
Last Thursday, Brice Arthur was at home in suburban Toronto, watching Game 3 between the Raptors and the Boston Celtics—another contest decided by a thrilling, last-second heave. He spent the night with two computer screens open—one set to the game broadcast and another to bang out his story. Once the final buzzer sounded, he logged into Zoom, toggling between channels in the Raptors' locker room and the postgame presser, trying to cull as much info as he can and get in a pertinent question. Anyone who’s spent the last six months longing for unmediated contact with friends, with family, or even total strangers, will recognize the sense of exasperation the limits and challenges of technology brought Arthur. “Whatever you lose in that translation—it’s not the same,” he said.
The Toronto Star was willing to send Arthur into Fortress NBA—at a five-figure cost—but he declined. With four kids requiring in-home schooling while Ontario works out the kinks in its reopening plan, Arthur didn’t want to go away for three months and then spend two more weeks in quarantine after returning to Canada. “I’ll do a lot for my career but it wasn’t worth it to us this time,” Arthur explained.
Arthur ended up ditching his chosen beat entirely. In mid-March, his editor offered him the chance to become the paper’s coronavirus columnist. Those four months presented an entirely new series of challenges: including becoming steeped in virology, immunology, and all the attendant fields impacted by a still-metastasizing global crisis. He’s only recently returned to covering the games. But in the end, it wasn’t much of a choice. “It just matters more,” he said. “It was the story of all of us.”
As a two-way player, Hoard wasn’t positive he’d be back with the Blazers for the NBA’s resumption this summer. But as documented in a YouTube special called ‘The Tale of Jaylen Hoard's journey,’ Hoard was grateful for the Orlando opportunity. Hoard teamed up with Paris based Photographer Charly G. as he presents the JAYBOOGGY Series, ‘The Tale of Jaylen Hoard's journey.’
Shams Charania: The NBA will allow teams advancing to the Finals to bring three more staff members and 12 team staff guests into the Orlando bubble, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
“It’s strange; it’s definitely strange,” Rivers said. “It’s just different. After the game, or going to the game, Denver is getting on the bus; we’re getting on the bus. After the game, you see them getting off; we’re getting off. … Now, I’m doing an interview, and I’m seeing the Nuggets walk by. It’s really strange. “It’s funny, we’re not on top of each other, but I just think it’s abnormal—[the other day] players for both teams were going up in the elevator together. I was telling one guy, I don’t know if that’s even healthy. It’s a contentious game. I don’t know if I need to see that.”
“Every minute of every day,” Stevens said. “I mean, every single day. I do the same walking path every day. I call it ‘The Walk of Sanity,’ and I’ve found that a lot of other people do it, too. I saw Nick [Nurse] riding his bike out there, I see Spo [Erik Spoelstra of the Heat] all the time, I see Frank [Vogel] jogging. Doc’s whole staff. We all run into each other a lot.”
“I’ve enjoyed it in a weird kind of way, even seeing the other coaches,” Malone said. “Like Brad Stevens and I have had more conversations in the last 60 days than we’ve ever had because we’re down here and we’re in the same boat. It’s unique, and we’re trying to make the best of it.”
Marc J. Spears: William Rondo, bother of Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, is actually in charge of the barbers, braiders and manicurists in the bubble. Here is a @Espn @TheUndefeated video story on William Rondo. bit.ly/3hrDED8
Sam Amick: Protesters advocating for justice for 22-year-old Salaythis Melvin, who was fatally shot by an Orange County sheriff’s deputy last month, stood in front of our shuttle bus for 10 minutes or so before subsiding as we re-entered the bubble. One sign: “LeBron. Stand With Us.”
Duvalier Johnson: Michael Malone said that the bubble is not easy. “When you find yourself in elimination games, the easy thing to do would be to give up.” He went on to talk about the resiliency and the fight although it could’ve been easy to give up and head back to their families.
Most early mornings, a group of NBA officials walk the Loop together, with those same officials having also walked the Loop along with many Disney employees in support of the NBA players during their boycott. Bike rentals are available, and members of the Lakers' coaching staff race around the loop, as does Raptors coach Nick Nurse. Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth throws his headphones on and goes for fast walks. Clippers assistants Tyronn Lue and Sam Cassell walk in the searing Orlando heat hours before games.
Mornings and early afternoons are filled with dozens of NBA folks, all limited to the bubble, using the Loop to get in a run, take a brisk walk or jog, or ride bikes. What’s fascinating about the Loop is that rival coaches, or coaches and officials, are nearly guaranteed to cross paths because the circular route. “The thing is,” one NBA coach said, “if I see a guy coming in the opposite direction four or five times, how many times do I have to say hello to him?”
Ben Golliver: Raptors’ Kyle Lowry on his final thoughts on the NBA Bubble after Game 7 loss to Celtics: “It was challenging. It was well put together. We used our platform for our voices to be heard on social injustices... The Bubble was a success. Time to leave this motherf—-er.” pic.twitter.com/xhQBQ4HE84
Jonathan Feigen: NBA announces that Rockets F Danuel House Jr. is out for the remainder of the playoffs. League determined "House had a guest in his hotel room over multiple hours on September 8 who was not authorized to be on campus." No other staff members or players were deemed to be involved.
On Aug. 26, the night that the NBA shut down after the Milwaukee Bucks’ protest, laughter and singing echoed across Lago Dorado, the lake in the middle of Disney’s Coronado Springs resort. Amid the uncertainty of the season’s resumption following a tense players-led meeting, a group of players — the Balkan Boys, as they later called themselves — went to dinner on the outdoor patio at the Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago around 8 p.m. “It was a crazy night full of emotions,” the Heat’s Goran Dragić told The Athletic. “We didn’t know how it was gonna turn the next day.”
Dinner turned into drinks. Drinks turned into playing music from their phones while locking arms and belting Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian songs, including “Slavija” by Džej and “Ne Moze Nam Niko Nista” by Mitar Miric, seemingly every few minutes. They weren’t the only players unwinding by going out and eating and drinking in the bubble that night, but they were certainly the loudest. “We transformed the restaurant to a club,” Dragić said.
A second GM then chimed in on the same theme, sources said, echoing that the lack of travel and additional rest contributed to better play and helped even out the competition. Sources said a league official on the call then brought up the concept of teams heading into cities to play a potential series of games -- fly into a city and play the host team in two games over a short time span. The idea, which several GMs considered akin to a baseball homestand, was discussed in an effort to reduce the mileage teams might have to fly during the regular season.
When asked about this topic, Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey told ESPN that he wasn't yet sure what conclusions could be drawn from a unique situation. "I think there's a lot of data points that we really can't quantify yet," he added.
The concept of a baseball-like homestand does present financial challenges, such as trying to sell tickets to see the same two teams play over two or three nights. "In baseball, it's all about who's pitching and it's totally different every night," said one Eastern Conference GM. "Basketball could be the same game every night. How do you sell that from a ticket perspective? It's tough."
Since games began on July 30, several NBA general managers and team athletic training officials have noticed that the play looks crisp, players are moving up and down the court with speed, and there were top-notch performances almost every night even though teams were playing every other day at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. Though it is a small sample size, GMs and team staffers pointed to the same factor: the lack of travel. "Our guys feel better," one Western Conference GM told ESPN. "We don't know if it's anecdotal, but we've got these games and we don't have to jump on planes [afterward]."
November 27, 2020 | 6:18 am EST Update
Real Madrid lost star guard Facu Campazzo to the NBA (the Denver Nuggets to be specific) and there is a reported possibility that this may also happen with another player of the team. According to Marca, Real Madrid forward Gabriel Deck will be using the exit clause on his contract with “Blancos” and sign with an NBA club even next week if his team doesn’t present him with an extension offer really soon. There are some NBA teams that have “shown an interest” for the Argentinian player and he’s ready to make the jump, unless something changes with his contract situation with Real.
One longtime league executive said the past week was the most hectic of his career. In addition to the draft and free agency crammed together in an abbreviated offseason, there are so many other less-publicized tasks that teams are trying to sort through, from COVID-19 protocols to fans possibly attending games to scheduling. It’s wild to think that regular-season games are scheduled to tip off in less than a month.
Olgun Uluc: An interesting development: Brisbane Bullets big-man, Tyrell Harrison, has been classified by the NBPA as eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft, his agent tells ESPN. The Kiwi is 21 years old, a legit 7-foot, and should get a minutes bump with Magnay gone. An intriguing, raw prospect.
For example, every day at 5 a.m., inside room 950 in the Gran Destino (where all the top-seeded teams stayed), Masai Ujiri would wake up, read his book, hop on the Peloton, and work out before heading down for breakfast. He thought nothing of his daily ritual until one morning, several weeks into the bubble, when he got a text from another former player of his: “Morning boss, you good up there?” The text was from Kawhi Leonard—Finals MVP with the Raptors, now a star on the Clippers—who was staying in room 850, directly below his old boss. Ujiri had been waking Kawhi up with his noisy workouts for weeks, but Kawhi was reluctant to say anything.
Ujiri told Kawhi that he would stop for the time being and joked that he would continue again when the Raptors met the Clippers in the Finals, messing with Kawhi’s sleep. Kawhi responded with the kind of trash talk that’s best read aloud in Kawhi’s dry monotone: “Haha, you know the saying ‘Don’t poke the bear’? I’m gonna call the NBA on you…get you out the bubble.”
NBA star Markelle Fultz is taking Wakanda Forever literally … he just got a foot-long image of the Black Panther tattooed on his thigh — and it’s AMAZING!! TMZ Sports has learned back in the summer, Fultz hit up “Ink Master” star Roly T-Rex about getting some ink done. And, with Chadwick Boseman’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement at its peak … the two got to thinking a “Black Panther” piece would be perfect.
November 27, 2020 | 1:58 am EST Update
And as is usually the case when the Celtics don’t turn a highly publicized rumor into a reality, we’re getting a reason why that deal never went through. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Celtics were never really that high on Turner. Boston apparently didn’t see him as a very big upgrade to their frontcourt, and was even exploring other deals to trade Turner had the deal with Indiana come to fruition. “Talking to people and reading the tea leaves as best I could, it really comes down to the Celtics didn’t want Myles Turner,” Lowe said on The Lowe Post Podcast. “I did hear from some teams around the league that the Celtics have done some preliminary research on what Myles Turner’s trade value would have been to them had they acquired him either in this deal or in a separate deal, and obviously didn’t like what they saw.”
For quite some time during his 2020 offseason, Marc Gasol was rumored to be considering a return to Europe and his native Spain by joining Barcelona. Now a player of the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol shut down those rumors as pure speculation, saying that there wasn’t even a talk with Barcelona. “That was not accurate at all,” Gasol said when asked how close he was to going back to Spain during first official presser by the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think someone made that assumption just because I’m not very ‘out there’ and communicate on things. I think people just try to make that decision for me and thought that was a very good time to try it. I never stated that. I was never close to that. I never even spoke to Barcelona about it.” “That came as surprise to me but that’s the world we’re living now. You’re hearing something and everybody runs with it,” Gasol added.