2020 NBA Bubble

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Many of Walt Disney World's facilities and hotels are part of the bubble.

The 2020 NBA Bubble or Orlando Bubble is the isolation zone with strict rules created by the National Basketball Association (NBA) to protect its players from the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2019–20 season. Twenty-two teams were invited to Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida to participate in regular season and playoff games being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.[1] The bubble is a $170 million investment by the NBA to protect its season which was cut short by the pandemic.[2] The bubble games began on July 30, 2020 inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.[3]

Suspension of the season[edit]

On March 11, 2020, the NBA announced the suspension of the 2019–20 season following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19 hours before the Jazz road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.[4] On June 4, the NBA Board of Governors approved 29–1 (with the lone dissenter being the Portland Trail Blazers) resuming the 2019–20 season in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World, after prior consideration of Las Vegas and Houston as potential spots.[5] On June 5, 2020, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) approved negotiations with the NBA.[6]

Resumption of the season[edit]

On June 16, 2020, the NBA released a medical protocol that will be used during the season restart in the bubble to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches, officials, and staff.[7][8] This includes regular testing for COVID-19 prior to and throughout the season restart, wearing a face covering or mask, and social distancing to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 from occurring. Players and coaches who are deemed "high-risk individuals" by their team, or players who have already suffered season-ending injuries prior to season suspension, will not be permitted to play and will also not lose any salary. Any player who is medically cleared may also decline to participate but they will lose their corresponding paychecks.[9]

The protocol outlined six phases to ensure a smooth transition into the bubble and a successful end to the season:

  • Phase 1 of the plan ran from June 16 to 22, consisting of players traveling back to the home cities of their respective teams.
  • In Phase 2 from June 23 to June 30, COVID-19 tests began being administered to players every other day.
  • In Phase 3 from July 1 to July 11, mandatory individual workouts were conducted at team facilities, but group workouts were prohibited.[7]
  • Phase 4 was from July 7 to July 21, consisting of the teams traveling to Disney World and conducting practices. Any player who tested positive in the previous phases could not travel until being medically cleared to do so. Once teams arrive in Orlando, players and staff were isolated in their rooms, required to pass two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart before being let out of this quarantine.[7] They will still be regularly tested for COVID-19 afterwards throughout the season. A player who tests positive will be isolated and re-tested in case of a false positive; if COVID-19 is definitely confirmed, he will be quarantined for at least 14 days to recover.[9] Players and staff will not be permitted into another's room, nor will they be able to socialize with players on other teams staying at a different hotel building. They will have access to food and recreational activities within their hotel's bubble, but they will have to wear masks indoors except when eating. Anybody who leaves the bubble without prior approval will have to be quarantined for at least 10 days.[9]
  • During Phase 5 from July 22 to 29, teams played three scrimmages against the other teams staying at the same hotel.
  • During Phase 6, as the regular season seeding games and playoffs are under way and teams begin to be eliminated from contention, players and staff on those clubs must pass one final COVID-19 test before they can leave Disney World.[9]

With fans not being permitted to attend in person, the NBA installed 17-foot screens to allow 300 virtual fans to "attend" the games.[10]

Special Disney MagicBands were also given to players, coaches and staff and reconfigured as passports and contact tracers inside the bubble to combat the spread of the virus, with transponders similar to those at the park entrances and attractions being installed at each practice facility and arena front gate and only allowing entry when a MagicBand holder had recorded his or her temperature and health chart that day.[11]

On July 30, the season resumed as planned, with the Utah Jazz defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Los Angeles Clippers.[12][13][14][15] The games are to be played across three Disney venues at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex: the HP Field House, the Visa Athletic Center, and The Arena.[16]

Rules[edit]

The NBA produced a rule book of more than 100 pages to protect its players in an attempt to salvage the remainder of the season. Rules include isolation periods, testing requirements, and the potential for financial penalties. Any players subject to isolation periods when a game is scheduled must forego participating in the game to complete their isolation. The NBA has a hotline allowing people to anonymously report players who break the rules of the bubble, which players have referred to as the "snitch hotline."[17][18][19] Masks must always be worn by players, with eating and exercise being exceptions.[20] Additionally, staff working at these facilities must wear masks and gloves at all times.[21]

Players were not required to join the bubble, and at least 10 players declined to join their teams.[22] Nobody is allowed to have guests, and all food is prepared within the bubble. Thus far, only three players have been cited for violating the rules of the bubble: Lou Williams, Richaun Holmes, and Bruno Caboclo.[23]

Players were allowed to use many of the Disney facilities, such as pools, golf courses, bicycles, gaming areas, barbers, bowling, ping pong, and spa services.[24]

Efficacy[edit]

The bubble has proven to be extremely effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Leading up to the resumption of play on July 30, there were two consecutive weeks of zero players testing positive for COVID-19.[25][26]

Reaction[edit]

This decision by the NBA has received a mixed reaction from its players and coaches, with some players referring to it as a prison sentence. Other players complained about the food, with Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid showing his meal and said that he was "definitely losing 50 lbs."[27][28] After arriving in the bubble, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon said it felt "strange," while Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. described the feeling as "surreal."[29] However the players have been givien advice from NASA astronauts on how to deal with being in isolation.[30]

Teams[edit]

There were 22 teams that were invited to the bubble: the 16 teams in playoff position and the six teams within six games of clinching a playoff berth.[31]

Venues and bases[edit]

In addition to the three venues in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex which are hosting games, three official Disney resorts were chosen to host the teams, with the teams being arranged based on their respective records prior to entering the bubble.[32][33]

Location Type Area Role
HP Field House Venue ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Venue for games, including scrimmages, seeding games, and playoff games.
Visa Athletic Center Venue ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
The Arena Venue ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Base Magic Kingdom Resort Area Hosted the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, and Memphis Grizzlies.
Disney's Yacht Club Resort Base Epcot Resort Area Hosted the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, and Washington Wizards.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Base/Practice Facility Animal Kingdom Resort Area Hosted the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Miami Heat at the Gran Destino Tower. All teams' respective practice courts are also located inside the convention center.

Schedule[edit]

The bubble follows the schedule below:[31]

Stage/Round Dates
Training camp July 9–11
Scrimmages July 22–28
Seeding (regular season) games July 30 – Aug. 14
Play-in tournaments (if necessary) Aug. 15–16
Playoffs begin Aug. 17
Family and guests of teams arrive Aug. 30
Conference Semifinals Aug. 31 – Sept. 13
Conference Finals Sept. 15–28
NBA Finals Sept. 30 – Oct. 13

Activism[edit]

With the George Floyd protests ongoing, the NBA, the NBPA, and the teams worked together to use the bubble as a platform for the Black Lives Matter movement. During warmups and while sitting on the bench, players wore T-shirts with large print and the text "Black Lives Matter." This phrase was also painted in large font on all official basketball courts being used for gameplay. Additionally, players were allowed the option to replace the names on the backs of their jerseys with a meaningful statement of their choice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.[34] The national anthem has been pre-recorded in advance exclusively by African American artists. Thus far, Jonathan Isaac is the lone player to stand during the national anthem and to elect not to wear a Black Lives Matter warm-up shirt, citing religious reasons for his decision.[35] Other players respected his decision, even if they disagreed with him.[36] Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard also chose to stand with his hand over his heart. His reasoning came down to his support for the military.[37] San Antonio Spurs coaches Gregg Popovich, an outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter,[38] and Becky Hammon also chose to stand for their own reasons.[39] Sean Roberts, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, threatened to pull tax breaks for the Oklahoma City Thunder if they kneeled.[40][41] All of the players and coaches from both the Thunder and the opposing Utah Jazz kneeled anyway.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reynolds, Tim (June 4, 2020). "NBA Board of Governors approves 22-team restart of 2019–20 season". NBA.com. Associated Press. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  2. ^ Mannix, Chris (July 21, 2020). "Free From Quarantine: The NBA Bubble Is A Unique Experience". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  3. ^ "Welcome to the bubble: Everything to know about the NBA's 22-team restart". ESPN.com. July 1, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  4. ^ "NBA suspends season until further notice after player tests positive for the coronavirus". ESPN.com. ESPN News Services. March 11, 2020. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  5. ^ Wojnarowski, Adrian (June 4, 2020). "NBA approves 22-team format to finish season". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  6. ^ "NBPA approves further negotiations with NBA on 22-team format for season restart". NBA.com. June 5, 2020. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Bontemps, Tim (June 16, 2020). "In documents, NBA details coronavirus testing protocols, including 2-week resting period for positive tests". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  8. ^ Mannix, Chris (July 21, 2020). "Free From Quarantine: The NBA Bubble Is A Unique Experience". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d Windhorst, Brian; Bontemps, Tim (June 16, 2020). "Inside the NBA's 100-page safety plan: Big questions and key details". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Medina, Mark (July 24, 2020). "NBA to feature 'virtual fans' at arenas for season restart". USA Today. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  11. ^ Powell, Shaun (July 23, 2020). "Disney World Diary: MagicBand passports reprogrammed to keep campus safe". NBA.com. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  12. ^ "Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans Box Score, July 30, 2020". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  13. ^ "Gobert lifts Jazz past Pelicans 106–104 in NBA restart". ESPN.com. Associated Press. July 30, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  14. ^ "Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, July 30, 2020". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  15. ^ "James' layup late lifts Lakers past Clippers, 103–101". ESPN.com. Associated Press. July 31, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  16. ^ "Disney's sports 'bubble' for NBA, MLS may help bring back tourism to Central Florida". Orlando Business Journal. July 22, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  17. ^ Bontemps, Tim (June 17, 2020). "NBA details virus testing, amenities for Orlando". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  18. ^ Helin, Kurt (June 17, 2020). "NBA creating COVID-19 violation hotline for restart in Orlando". NBC Sports. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  19. ^ Gatto, Tom (June 17, 2020). "NBA to set up hotline for bubble infractions; Twitter has thoughts on who'll snitch". Sporting News. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Davis, Scott (June 18, 2020). "The NBA's 'bubble' environment will be so strict that playing cards will be thrown out and replaced after every use". Insider. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  21. ^ Ward-Henninger, Colin; Maloney, Jack (July 30, 2020). "NBA Disney World rules: Details of how the bubble will work with league set to resume play in Orlando". CBS Sports. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  22. ^ Greer, Jordan (July 13, 2020). "Here's a complete list of NBA players opting out of 2020 season return". Sporting News. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  23. ^ Haislop, Tadd (July 30, 2020). "NBA bubble, explained: A complete guide to the rules, teams, schedule & more for Orlando games". Sporting News. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  24. ^ Helin, Kurt (July 7, 2020). "NBA Orlando restart: What players can expect as they arrive at the bubble". NBC Sports. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  25. ^ Maloney, Jack (July 20, 2020). "NBA announces zero players tested positive for COVID-19 inside Disney World bubble over past week". CBS Sports. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  26. ^ Kim, Allen; Sterling, Wayne (July 29, 2020). "The NBA and players' union say no players tested positive for the coronavirus, one day before the season restarts". CNN.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  27. ^ Riddell, Don (July 30, 2020). "No sex and no fans, but the beer is flowing fast in the NBA 'bubble'". CNN.com. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  28. ^ García-Hodges, Ahiza (July 10, 2020). "'This ain't it': NBA players react to being in the Walt Disney World bubble". NBC News. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  29. ^ Woike, Dan (July 10, 2020). "Five NBA teams begin practices in Orlando bubble: 'Honestly, it feels strange'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  30. ^ Woike, Dan (July 10, 2020). "Five NBA teams begin practices in Orlando bubble: 'Honestly, it feels strange'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  31. ^ a b Ward-Henninger, Colin; Maloney, Jack (July 17, 2020). "NBA Disney World rules: Details of how the bubble will work as league plans to resume play in Orlando". CBS Sports. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  32. ^ Medworth, Whitney (June 16, 2020). "Every Disney hotel NBA teams are staying in, explained". SB Nation. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  33. ^ Figueroa, Jennifer (July 2, 2020). "PHOTOS: New NBA Practice Courts Installed Inside Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center". WDW News Today. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  34. ^ Bernstein, Brittany (July 31, 2020). "NBA Resumes Season with 'Black Lives Matter' Painted on Court". National Review. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  35. ^ Quinn, Sam (August 1, 2020). "Magic's Jonathan Isaac explains why he didn't take knee or wear Black Lives Matter shirt Friday". CBS Sports. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  36. ^ Rossman-Reich, Philip (August 1, 2020). "Jonathan Isaac chose to stand, his reasons belong to him". Orlando Magic Daily. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  37. ^ Roscher, Liz (August 1, 2020). "Heat's Meyers Leonard stands for anthem with teammates' support". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  38. ^ Aguirre, Priscilla (July 28, 2020). "Popovich continues to be vocal about Black Lives Matter, says anyone offended by it is just ignorant". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  39. ^ Helin, Kurt (July 31, 2020). "Spurs coaches Gregg Popovich, Becky Hammon stand during anthem". NBC Sports. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  40. ^ "State Rep. Sean Roberts threatens tax penalties if Oklahoma City Thunder kneel during national anthem". Tulsa World. August 1, 2020. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  41. ^ Deaton, David (August 1, 2020). "Rep. Sean Roberts Questions Tax Credit for OKC Thunder if Players Choose to Kneel, Disrespect Flag". Oklahoma Welcome. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  42. ^ Owens, Jason (August 1, 2020). "Thunder players all kneel during anthem after threat from Oklahoma lawmaker". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved August 2, 2020.

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