Tomorrow the NBA season will finally start again, without fans. To make it safe, the 22 teams retreated to the giant Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida. There the players, coaches, staff members and journalists form a big bubble.
On March 11, the American basketball league was one of the first sports leagues that decided to halt the season (temporarily) because of the corona pandemic. Soon the idea came up to finish the season in Disney World Florida. With its more than 100 square kilometers, the giant complex is the ideal location to host the NBA circus. There are enough rooms to host competitions and training and the many hotels and restaurants provide players with food and shelter. The entire operation cost the NBA more than $ 170 million (about $ 145 million).
The season was halfway through when Covid-19 struck. 22 out of 30 teams have been invited to restart at Disney World. Those are the twelve teams that had already qualified for the playoffs and ten more who are still competing for a place. Each team will first play eight games to complete the regular season. Normally, the playoffs begin in mid-August. The NBA Final will be played on October 13, eight days before the 2020-21 season would normally begin. That start has now been moved to December.
For logical security reasons, players must adhere to strict rules. The NBA issued regulations of more than 100 pages. The regulations include mandatory quarantine for those entering the complex, regular testing and wearing a mask in most places. Those who commit a violation can expect a fine. The NBA has even provided a telephone click line where players can report it anonymously if they see someone making a violation. Apparently there are some talented spies in the American basket: the line already received “multiple tips” and that while the first game has yet to be played.
Players have been tested twice in their first 36 hours of arriving at Disney World and will continue to undergo regular checks throughout their stay. Coaches, staff members and journalists are also continuously tested for the virus.
The NBA reported that “a small number” of positive tests will not end the season, meaning the organization expects some individuals to become infected despite the strict rules. In that case, the infected persons must remain in quarantine in their hotel room for at least 14 days.
Not only are the players, coaches and journalists safe from the corona virus, they also get access to the facilities of the amusement park. It was previously announced that the players will see the new Marvel movie before the official release. But if you isolate a large group of super long, talented and hyperactive alpha males, you are asking for trouble. This created different mutual competitions among the players. They already challenged each other in golf, cards, video games, ping pong, beach volleyball and even fishing.
Each team has its own 24-hour dining room and a limited number of restaurants are open on campus. According to ESPN, Rix Sports Bar and Grill (how could it be otherwise) is very popular among players and trainers. If that is not enough, they can order something via the room service. Especially Meyers Leonard of the Portland Trailblazers seems to be a big fan of the Mickey Mouse waffles.
Sex, drugs and rock and roll
One of the three will certainly not be found in Disney World; Until the end of August, players are not allowed to receive family or partners in their hotel room. Because the NBA understands that ping pong games will get boring after a while, it will not check players for marijuana and other recreational drug use.
“If you think about it, it would be almost inhuman not to let them use marijuana,” Al Harrington, a former NBA player who now runs a cannabis extract company, told The Athletic. “These guys need something to escape from everyday reality for a while. Normally during the season, when you have had a bad game, you go home and keep busy with your kids. In this bubble they cannot run away from a bad match. ”
Also read: how the NBA will support the Black Lives Matter movement.