Jun 17, 2020 - Sports

NBA details life inside its Disney World "bubble"

Illustration of a basketball with mouse ears.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a document sent to players on Tuesday, the NBA provided a detailed look at what life will be like when play resumes inside the league's "bubble" at Walt Disney World in Florida next month.

Why it matters: Players will be tested for COVID-19 "regularly." When someone tests positive, they will be placed in isolation, where they will remain for at least 14 days. Once they test negative twice in a span of more than 24 hours, they can leave isolation.

The NBA will use video technology to help with contact tracing. Anyone who was within six feet of someone who tested positive for at least 15 minutes or had "direct contact with infectious secretions and excretions" (i.e. was coughed on) will be considered a "close contact" and also be tested.

  • Smart rings: Players and staff will have the option to use wearable rings that track temperature, heart rate, respiration rate and other variables. They also display an "illness probability score."
  • Masks: Mask usage is required indoors except when eating or when in an individual's room. During games, players, referees, bench players and coaches in the first row of seating will not be required to wear masks.
  • Anonymous hotline: The NBA will establish an anonymous hotline to report violations, with discipline ranging from fines to suspensions to removal from campus.
  • Precautions: Players will be told to not spit or clear their noses, wipe the ball with their jerseys, lick their hands or touch their mouths unnecessarily while playing.

Key dates:

  • June 22: Deadline for players to report to home cities (Toronto Raptors will report to Florida Gulf Coast University).
  • June 23–30: Players begin being tested for COVID-19 every other day.
  • June 24: Deadline for players to inform their teams whether they plan to participate in the return-to-play plan.
  • July 1–11: Mandatory individual workouts at team facilities.
  • July 7–21: Teams travel to Disney World. Once they arrive, they will self-isolate in hotel rooms for up to 48 hours until they have two negative tests.
  • July 22–29: Teams play three scrimmages against other teams staying in the same hotel.
  • July 31–Oct. 13: The games begin. Once the first round of the playoffs ends, each of the remaining eight teams can reserve 15-17 hotel rooms for guests.

Teams will stay at three resorts based on seeding, and each team will have a travel party of 37 people, consisting of 1517 players, 1820 support staff, a PR official and a "content creator."

  • Grand Destino Tower at Coronado Springs: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat. Take a tour.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Thunder, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies, Magic. Take a tour.
  • Yacht Club Resort: Trail Blazers, Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Wizards. Take a tour.

More details:

  • Amenities: 24-hour VIP concierge, players-only lounge (TVs, gaming, card tables, ping pong), mental health services, pools, barbers, manicurists, salon services, yoga, meditation.
  • Food: Each team will have a dedicated Disney culinary team and players will get "three freshly-prepared meals a day, and four meals a day on game days."
  • Entertainment: Movie screenings (including unreleased Disney movies like "Black Widow") and other daily entertainment will be provided, and teams will eventually be able to visit isolated restaurants, golf courses and more.

Games will be held in three arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (yellow circle above). A limited number of players can attend games they're not playing in, and there will be limited media, team executives, league employees and even sponsors allowed in.

Game day schedule (7pm ET game), per The Athletic's Shams Charania:

  • Morning: Breakfast at hotel; Shootaround at practice facility (seven locations throughout park).
  • Afternoon: Post-shootaround lunch at hotel, downtime at hotel.
  • Pre-game: Drive to Wide World of Sports (4:30pm); Warmup on non-game court (5–6:15pm); Meeting in locker room (6:15–6:40pm); Warmup on game court (6:40–7pm).
  • Post-game: Team meeting (9:409:50pm); Media availability (9:50–10:20pm); Drive to hotel (10:25–10:40); Showers and meal (11pm).

My take: My brain hurts just imagining all of these moving parts. If this is what's required to resume the NBA season, how exactly do college football programs think they're going to play this fall?

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