NBA Bubble Life

Everyone will follow the rules?

Jim Rome
July 02, 2020 - 9:23 am
Adam Silver

USA Today


As some more time has gone by, NBA players are expressing doubts about going to Orlando and living on the cruise ship without the cruise or the water. Washington’s Thomas Bryant said “Me personally, I don’t like people telling me what and what not to do. But I also follow rules, as well." He is officially going.

Teammate Bradley Beal is officially on the fence: “I have yet to make (my decision),” Beal said. “I’m still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing. Definitely, it’s more or less gonna be a decision that comes down to the medical staff and just because of our precautions and just coming back from being zero to 100. … We’re looking at it from all angles, but I’m definitely working out every single day in here. It’s good to be back in the facility. But I’m not swayed one way or another.”

And there’s the fact that he expects the games to be bad: “So now, you’re saying we have only two weeks to really, fully get in basketball shape until we have to be balls out to make a playoff push.”

Might be more like three weeks to get in basketball shape before you have to go balls out to make a playoff push, but I see Beal working. 

So there are concerns about the quality of basketball, the chance of getting injured because of a quick restart, and life in the bubble, and the rules of the bubble. And then there are the concerns that the rules of the bubble will be ignored.

Damian Lillard thinks there is a strong chance of that happening: "My confidence ain't great. My confidence ain't great because you're telling me you're gonna have 22 teams full of players following all the rules? When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody don't follow all the rules. I don't have much confidence. But hopefully it'll be handled to a point where we're not putting everybody at risk or in a dangerous position."

The man has a point. A very good point. Is every player and every staffer from every team going to honor every rule of that 113 page COVID rule book, for the entire time they’re there? I’ve got about as much confidence in that as Dame does. And that’s not based on anything other than watching how the rest of the country has responded to the virus.

You’ve got people freaking out in supermarkets when they’re asked to wear a mask for 20 or 30 minutes and now you’re going to ask more than 700 people to go weeks without seeing their families?

Here’s another one: players and staffers are not allowed to socialize in each other’s rooms. When you see yet another video of some dope at a Costco or Pier 1 losing it because they’re asked to put on a mask, you’re telling me that every player and every staffer will follow every rule?

That’s before we get to the bigger issues like breaking the bubble and going off-campus. Because there’s probably a good chance that’ll happen too. And that will be happening in a state where cases are skyrocketing, which raises questions about just how safe the bubble will be.

Lillard thinks being inside the bubble is safer than being outside it, but there’s no way to make it perfect. "The fact that we're going to be in a bubble, it kind of knocks it down and limits the chance of us being exposed to everybody else outside the bubble in Orlando. I think it is a safer situation. But I don't think it's possible for them to protect us 100 percent. I think everybody's going there understanding that."

Lillard says he already has a plan for how he’s going to handle his business.

"I know there're going to activities for us and all that stuff, but I mean, I'm gonna be chilling. I feel like there's still a possibility for something to spread within that bubble, just with so many people doing so many different things that we've got to follow to be safe, even though we're not exposed to the public. So for me, it's going to be: What time is practice, what time can I get in the weight room, what time can I get some shots up, what's the plan for game day.”

And when he’s not at practice, or the weight room, or at shootaround, he’ll be in one place and one place only: “And then I'm gonna be in the room. I'm gonna have my PS3, my PS4, I'm gonna have my studio equipment, my mic, my laptop, I'm gonna have all my books. That's it, man. I'm gonna be in the room, chilling."

That is a great strategy and a great approach. That is next level. Bring your studio equipment, your mic, and your laptop, and do some work. Record a few tracks or an entire album. Or a boxed set, because you’re going to have time. A lot of time.

And even then, even if he brings his PS4 and his studio equipment and all of his equipment, he’s bound to get bored, right? There’s no way you can’t. You can’t just keep doing the same thing, day in and day out, sitting in a hotel room, no matter how nice the room is, and not get bored.

And that’s for Lillard, who is going with a plan. Who has great discipline; and an elite mindset? What about the guys that don’t really prepare? What about the players and staffers who don’t bring all their books and just think that they’ll be fine playing golf and ping pong? They’re really going to get bored. Or go stir crazy.

I can get why Lillard’s confidence isn’t great that everyone will follow all the rules. If players and staffers are breaking the rules when there aren’t too many rules, there’s no way they follow all of them when there are 113 pages of them, right? Like Lillard, my confidence ain’t great. Ain’t great that they’ll follow all the rules. Ain’t great the basketball will be great. And isn’t that all just great?