By Charlotte Wilder
The bubble has been full of really great basketball in the last week of the regular season. The Suns appeared unstoppable (didn’t see myself saying that three weeks ago!), TJ Warren and Damian Lillard were on hot streaks, Giannis headbutted Mo Wagner, and Carmelo Anthony continued to prove that he is not washed up.
But the bubble is about much more than the sport. Life down in Orlando is a rich ecosystem of packages, golf, and fully-open dress shirts.
So let’s get into the important stuff, which is everything that happened off the court this week.
1. LeBron thinks he’s in Miami
I appreciate a good Florida ‘fit, but LeBron didn’t have to go this hard …
… so naturally, his buddy Dwyane Wade didn’t miss a chance to roast him for it.
LeBron was a good sport about it.
I mean, I guess that if you’ve got abs, the nation might as well see them.
2. Watch out PGA Tour, NBA players are comin’ for ya
One of my favorite stories revealed in the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance was about how MJ went golfing with Danny Ainge between playoff games in 1986. Ainge left the course with most of MJ’s money, so Jordan went off the next night for 63 points against the Celtics. The Bulls still lost, but not for MJ’s lack of spite.
It appears that MJ isn’t the only NBA player into golf — Kyle Kuzma, Tacko Fall, Garrett Temple, Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul all hit the links this week down in Orlando. But the gambling part is what I’m curious about, so I’m trying to figure out if they bet on the rounds. Hit me up if you have info on this.
If they are placing bets, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tacko probably lost some cash. The man needs to work on his follow through.
Wouldn’t put it past JR to drive off a tee in the wrong direction. He might be really good at golf, but he’s still JR.
Kyle Kuzma’s golf outfit is…really something.
No joke here, just really impressed by the nice putt that Brooklyn’s Garrett Temple sank.
This is a classic “when in Rome” situation. Did you know that when you land at a Florida airport, someone has to — by law — hand you a polo shirt and golf spikes? The airlines give out tees instead of snacks on flights. Your hands turn into golf clubs. It’s science.
3. Family is welcome, DM slides….are not
Did I tear up watching the Suns team intros that players’ families sent to the bubble? Yeah. I did. It was hard not to, when you think about these guys have had to be away from the people they love for so long.
Watching each player react to their video was unbelievably sweet.
It looks like they’ll be able to bring their families into the bubble soon, however.
And “established longstanding personal friends.” Which basically means …
… that the league was trying to find a graceful way to say “people whose DMs you’ve been sliding into are not invited.”
This reminds me of when teachers in middle school say things like “leave space between your bodies” when you slow dance, but they really mean “wait for marriage.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of ex-significant others are about to get phone calls.
2020 is wild.
4. I have so many questions about the packages players are receiving
When I was in college, I used to buy things off discount websites just so I would get packages. This is a much less pathetic version of that:
Donovan Mitchell got something called a “bubble survival kit” from Adidas, which I like to imagine was just filled with masks and wine, because what more could anyone need?
I’m going to do some digging to figure out what everyone is sending themselves in the bubble, so watch this space. Will (literally) report back.
5. The barbershop looks amazing
The thing I have missed most during 2020 — besides sports, my friends, restaurants, dive bars, birthday parties, etc. — is regular visits to my hair guy (shoutout Walton, I miss you).
So I’ve been impressed by the NBA’s understanding of just how true “look good, play good” is, seeing as they built a barbershop on campus to keep players groomed.
And then there’s James Harden.
6. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the bubble is summer camp for professional basketball players
On paper, being sequestered away from your family in Orlando from July through October sounds like a big ask. I originally felt bad that players would be taken out of their lives to finish the season.
But I’m not sure that I should’ve. Because they’re basically at adult camp.
Yes, they’re focusing on basketball, but when they’re not on the court, they seem to be having a blast. I never went to camp because I hate mosquitos, but I probably would’ve if it were as fun as the Spurs make it out to be:
Seriously! If you’ve ever caught a fish this big, you know it’s a high.
Who needs to hoist the Larry O’Brien when you can grab a big mouth bass by the mouth?
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