Before the NBA resumed its season in Orlando this summer, there was plenty of trepidation among players, who were simultaneously concerned about the implications of returning to play amid the nationwide protests and the specter of a dangerous virus that had put the country on lockdown.
Most players eventually opted to join the Bubble at the Disney World campus in July, but there were some who ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the risk their family’s safety. Avery Bradley was one such player who declined to travel to Florida with the Lakers, and as a result was forced to watch his team raise the championship trophy from the other side of the country.
Bradley made the decision to skip the restart because of concerns for his son, who suffers from asthma. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is particularly hard on groups with compromised lung functioning. But despite the bittersweet experience of celebrating the title away from his teammates, Bradley says he’s come to terms with how the situation played out.
“I think it is something that is hard, obviously, not being there,” Bradley said. “But I think from the beginning I’ve been able to be at peace.”
“You play your whole career working for a championship,” Bradley said, “and knowing that I was this close and a part of something, even though I wasn’t there, is still an amazing feeling.”
Bradley started 44 games for the Lakers before the shutdown and was a key factor in their run to the No. 1 seed in the West, and he’ll receive a well-deserved championship ring because of it, despite not participating in the Bubble games.
Bradley spent his time during the restart home-schooling his three children but still managed to watch all of the Lakers games and texted with his teammates and head exec Rob Pelinka throughout their championship run in Orlando.