Earlier Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic announced that players will have until June 24 to decide whether or not they will opt in to the league’s restart plan in Orlando. That timeline indicated that, in the very near future, the players would be receiving complete information about the bubble set-up before making that choice.
Those details have arrived swiftly. The NBA delivered a 33-page player handbook to teams today, and another missive on “health and safety protocols” expected to exceed 100 pages will be coming soon. The amount of information already provided is staggering, and that is just from the leaked portions of the memos, but let’s try to break this down as best as possible.
There are six phases of the Orlando plan, essentially starting with voluntary workouts, progressing to reporting to the practice facility in Los Angeles, undergoing coronavirus testing, and then traveling to Orlando. Contact with players from other teams is discouraged until the exhibition games during Phase 5. That is followed by Phase 6, the actual resumption of the season.
I was intrigued by one unique detail about how to encourage physical distancing:
“Players will have the option to wear a proximity alarm that will notify a player if he spends more than 5 seconds within 6 feet of another person on campus who is also wearing an alarm.”
Part of me is convinced that Kawhi Leonard already possesses this capability innately.
The Clippers will be staying at the Grand Destino Tower along with the other teams with the best eight records in the NBA: the Bucks, the Lakers, the Raptors, the Celtics, the Nuggets, the Jazz, and the Heat. This is relevant because each team will take part in three exhibition games during the last week of training camp (July 22 to July 29), but only against the teams staying in the same hotel. Players are also encouraged to not have interactions with individuals outside of their hotel until games begin.
Teams can have their own private chefs and arrange for food to be delivered from outside the NBA campus, but Disney will provide each team its own chefs to curate a specific menu.
Yahoo Sources: Each team will have access to designated Disney culinary team who will help create individualized team menus, support team dietary needs, and ensure health and safety guidelines are followed. Players will receive 3 meals per day and 4 meals per day on game days.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 16, 2020
The league has is also going to great lengths to ensure the comfort and and entertainment of its players, starting with self-care.
Barbers, manicurists, pedicurists and hair braiders will be selected jointly with the NBPA and we be available to players via appointment.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) June 16, 2020
Sources: Potential entertainment for players in the bubble include outdoor concerts, DJ sets, movie screenings and live comedy. NBA is working with Disney on special access to Disney parks and attractions.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) June 16, 2020
Teams will also be able to go golfing, bowling, and fishing, which appeals directly to Doc Rivers, Lou Williams, and Paul George. Perhaps more importantly, at least for the viewing public’s entertainment purposes, players are allowed to attend other games. Given that there will be no fans in attendance in Orlando, this will begin to create some sort of crowd noise for the broadcast and should be a delight to watch.
The aim is clearly to prevent personnel from leaving the campus at all in order to avoid introducing the virus into the bubble. Consequently, the penalties for stepping foot off campus are harsh, including missed games and lost paychecks.
Sources: NBA players have been informed that anyone who leaves the Orlando campus (without prior approval) will be subject to:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 16, 2020
- 10-14 day self-quarantine
- Reduction in compensation for games missed
- Enhanced testing (deep nasal swab)
There are numerous other details regarding testing/quarantining procedures and general health protocols (including mandatory face mask usage) that are worth looking into further. The Athletic also released the team schedules and a glimpse at the facilities. But the part that may appeal most to the Clippers is the reduced media availability.
Some media notes: On game days, a "virtual media session" will be held at shootarounds for 2-3 players. No pre-game media with players. Post-game, coach and two players in press conference room. Additional 2 players available for "virtual locker room availability."— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) June 16, 2020
Even with all of the amenities available to the players at the Orlando campus, the fact remains that they are being asked to stay in an enclosed environment for up to three months. Their families aren’t allowed to come until early in September, and they too will be subject to strict constraints. It’s an awkward situation, compounded by the fact that the rest of the country continues to live through a pandemic and social protests. Nothing about this is normal.
The least the NBA can do is provide a comprehensive plan that takes into account the players’ concerns and needs. The league needs to make the players happy and comfortable, and it seems like they are pulling out all the stops, while still prioritizing safety as best as possible.
The league is also taking note of the growing group of players who believe the NBA needs to better use its platform to advocate for racial justice. The threat of a significant number of players sitting out is likely overstated, but that doesn’t mean their message will go unheard.
NBA has informed all 30 teams of this entering 2019-20 resumption: "A central goal of our season restart will be to utilize the NBA's platform to bring attention and sustained action to issues of social injustice..." pic.twitter.com/qfrRms88Hi— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 16, 2020
It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of the NBA’s plan, particularly when so much Disney-related silliness is involved. But this is a serious undertaking involving hundreds of people, and the level of preparedness has to reflect that. Now we wait to see if the players are on board.