With the COVID-19 threat peaking in the state of Florida at just the wrong time for the league, it is imperative for the players to follow the NBA’s guidelines. The NBA released a 113-page dossier listing its plan consisting of all rules, regulations, and concessions made for players who will stay in the bubble.
Initial 2-day quarantine
Following teams’ arrivals, every player has been instructed to confine themselves for 2 days. This quarantine protocol has been deemed necessary so that Disney World personnel can ensure that players inhabit sanitary premises.
It is also a way to ensure that asymptomatic players do not act as vectors for the disease. If there is a breakout in the next couple of days, it will not be because the players have engaged in meet-and-greets following a long period of not seeing each other.
Each player who will play in the bubble will necessarily have to test negative twice on COVID-19 tests before entering Disney World. Subsequently, they have to test negative twice more once they’re within the bubble – in the first two days.
This step has been taken in order to ensure that false negatives and false positives are reduced to a negligible minimum. While most USA citizens have had to pay for their tests, NBA players can count themselves lucky to have been taken care of in this regard.
No guests allowed
In order to keep the bubble as safe as possible, the NBA has ruled out the possibility of NBA players’ families accompanying them. Up until the start of the second round of playoffs, no player will be allowed to bring in any guest to the complex.
This is a significant setback to the players, many of whom have young kids and families to take care of. This period of separation will represent the longest that many of them have been away from their families – over 7 weeks for many of them.
Players to stay in their own hotels
The quarantined feeling that players experience on the first couple of days will not go away quickly. They have been forbidden by the NBA to leave their hotel except for team practices.
The players will be allowed to tour the campus. They will also have to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines through the entire course of the bubble league. They can meet up with players of other teams in the common entertainment and gaming lounges that have been set up in all 3 hotels.
Card games and table tennis
One of the weirder but necessary rules according to the NBA is that players should throw away any deck of cards that they’ve used for games at one sitting. This is to reduce chance of transmission of the coronavirus via the card surface.
The players’ recreation lounge will contain the facility of a table tennis setup, but playing doubles is banned. This is just another step in the right direction in order to minimize contact between players and tier 1 NBA personnel wherever possible.
No going to other people’s rooms
Unlike a regular dormitory, where teammates might have been able to spend time reclined on their beds together, the NBA has barred players from hosting teammates in their suites.
Given that players will still be able to hang out with each other, albeit with face masks on, this rule does not present much of a hindrance. Players looking to challenge each other on private NBA 2K will have to go to the lounge, unlike 2K contest runner-up DeAndre Ayton, who will probably be busy on his own console.
Use of a health monitor
Every player in the bubble will be fitted with a Disney MagicBand, which they have to put on at all times except while playing or working out. This MagicBand will be used by them to check in for coronavirus testing and medical screenings, and will also act as their room key.
This is one of the better brainwaves to have come to the NBA administration’s attention, as it allows them to keep tabs on the players in a non-intrusive manner. The MagicBand is an integral part of the Disney World experience.
No post-game shower at the arenas
The NBA has banned the use of showers near the makeshift arenas built to play the games. This is a step taken in order to stop the possible spread of the virus through an unsuspecting player onto the bathroom surface and to the others.
Players will be required to dress up in their team uniforms at their own rooms, get ready and report to the arenas. Showers and change of dress will also be carried out in their suites. This should put a stop to pre-game fashion shows by the likes of Westbrook and Harden, who’re known for making bold fashion statements.
Players have been told to keep their mouth guards inside as much as they can. They’ve also been told to not share their clothing, deodorants, and accessories with each other, in order to reduce the chances of infection spreading through those routes.
This will probably mean that players are going to keep add-on warm-up gear at a minimum on the bench. They will also probably not be passing towels around or waving them following an emphatic play by their teammates.
Leaving the bubble
There are extenuating circumstances in which a player may be allowed to leave the bubble and reenter it – the birth of a child or the death of a family member being a couple of exceptions. Gordon Hayward is planning to use this provision to reach his pregnant wife, who will be expecting their third child in September.
When a player reenters the bubble, he will be forced to self-isolate for 10 days. During this period, he will be tested every day for the coronavirus, and only if he tests negative on all of those tests will he be allowed to resume practice and play with his team.
A few simple rules to stay safe shouldn’t be a problem. Good news is none of the players have tested positive since the season resumed in Orlando.