One star doesn’t think his fellow NBA players will follow all the rules and protocols in the bubble when the league restarts on July 30 at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
“My confidence ain’t great,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said with a laugh in an ESPN.com report on Wednesday. “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.”
There are 22 teams playing in the restart — which includes the Nets, but not the Knicks — who will arrive in Orlando starting Tuesday and will be tested. Then they will isolate for up to 48 hours, and then will be tested again. Those players, considering they pass their tests, will be in a bubble environment with outside world interaction being basically eliminated. Close family members will get to join the bubble after the first round of the playoffs.
Though coronavirus cases are rising in Florida, Lillard said he still believes the bubble will be safer, but is not foolproof.
“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,” Lillard said. “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.”
The NBA’s bubble plan came in the form of a 113-page document given to the teams outlining all the rules and protocols. If a player leaves campus and breaks the bubble, he will be quarantined for at least 10 days and will have to undergo deep-nasal testing. Players also can’t go into each other’s rooms but can socialize with golf, video games or one-on-one ping pong, according to the website.
Lillard said he has a simple plan for dealing with bubble life — basketball and chill.
“I know there’re going to activities for us and all that stuff, but I mean, I’m gonna be chilling,” he said. “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 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.”
Recently, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made it clear that he didn’t think the NBA players would follow the protocol rules because they wouldn’t want to miss out on sex for an extended period of time.
“Do we really think the ‘recreational activities’ that these guys are accustomed to are going to be compromised for three months?” Smith said on “First Take” recently. “I mean, somebody’s gotta say it.
“You really, really think somebody’s gonna be without their wives or their woman? The guys that are married without their wives, the guys that ain’t married without their woman. You really, really think they’re honoring a bubble for three months?”