The bubble is live, folks. It’s been just over a week and all teams have officially arrived, though some are still in mandatory quar due to players accidentally busting out and/or risking it all for Postmates. What has also officially arrived, if you haven’t noticed, is the professional pivot from NBA Self-Isolation Watch to NBA Bubble Watch. It was a long, hard decision (it wasn’t) but ultimately, and if this week proves anything, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes worth keeping track of. Florida is melting down and the bubble is heating up — that could be this new column’s tagline — so strap in and get ready for the inaugural return of the Watch formerly known as ISO, now Bubble.
When we say the bubble is live we mean LIVE. Kleber and some of his teammates including Luka Doncic, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith and J J. Barea took to their top floor balconies to blast an impromptu Benny Benassi appreciation set to the swamp below.
Bonus Kleber Kotent:
Maxi went to check in on Mavs assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, who seems to have gotten a Rapunzel themed turret room, the symbolism of which did not escape Kleber who shares Germanic roots with the story’s twisted authors, the Brothers Grimm.
Rating: I’d say that the best part is when the music cuts out and the guys are still dancing but the best part is everything.
Boban Marjanovic and Tobias Harris
A little background for those not keeping up on the summer soap opera of Bobi and Tobi. Harris had been feeling a bit glum because it seemed Boban, as is his won’t, was making some new friends during the league’s hiatus. But on arrival to the bubble, the first person Boban went to check in on was Harris. He stood under his window and shouted for him, like a towering Romeo or a less annoying Lloyd Dobler.
Tobi played it cool for a bit, scowling down at Bobi, before he predictably broke into a smile for his old best buddy.
Rating: Cameron Crowe eat your overwrought heart out.
Lill turned 30 in the bubble! Big bubble birthday! CJ McCollum decorated a “Presidential Suite” for him and the Blazers has a little bubble birthday in one of the hotel ballrooms not being used to house a literal hardwood basketball court flown in from a major market city.
Rating: In case you forgot how wonderful and humble a guy Lillard is, he was pretty bashful when his team chanted for his speech, thanking them all and being real cute and shy about all that attention.
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Not gonna lie I almost cried today because I’m so happy for my Kam turning the big 5. Even though I’m not there I’m still there and I love you!!! You’re amazing,funny,and the smile you have will light up ANY room. Always be you my son I love you!! Happy 5th Birthday #KAMKINGLOWRY #yeshegotmorehopsthanme
Here’s the first of what is undoubtedly going to be a recurring side effect of the bubble — your broken heart. Lowry’s youngest son, Kameron, turned five this week. Lowry was able to share some some wishes from afar but man if this doesn’t decimate you, I don’t know what will.
Rating: Kameron has also starred in such heart wrenching moments like Lowry scrambling to kiss him courtside this season after getting knocked down from undoubtedly taking a charge.
Mitchell checked out the player’s lounge which, compared to when other players, like Terrence Ross checked it out mid-set up, was ready to pop off with mood lighting and a decadent, purple felt pool table.
Rating: No idea if this is the same lounge where the so secret only Dwight Howard knows about them DJ sets happen.
Gordon took his braids out in the bubble. Whether he is truly ready to let his hair down or there are barbers on demand he was preparing for, he put his new and improved Florida Man face forward.
Rating: I wonder if Gordon was allowed to dock his fan boat somewhere in the bubble?
— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) July 12, 2020
Have I got a wholehearted, complete 180 to admit. After watching his first act on arrival in the bubble be to politely order approximately four Coors Lights from room service, in his very formal and deep twang, I began to get completely behind Meyers Leonard, the man. Since then, Leonard has gone on to shotgun said beer of choice and get extremely excited about his breakfast shaped like one giant, friendly mouse, and I’ve no choice but to tell it upon the Magic Mountain, Meyers Leonard is a treasure!
Rating: Even if his shotgun technique resembles a giant snake devouring its prey, I will not be swayed.
Turner, a big fan of puzzles in self-iso, brought a puzzle into the bubble. My guess is, from the time he dumped these jigsaw pieces out to this Bubble Watch hot off the presses, he’s gonna need a bigger puzzle.
Rating: Turner also signed up for Cameo, so maybe you can get him to finish a puzzle for you, the puzzle of your wildest dreams come true!
If I don't end up at Castaway Cay why am I even on this bus guys pic.twitter.com/R5DRhWeE88
— Robin Lopez (@rolopez42) July 12, 2020
Hoping if I sit here long enough pretending this is the Mexico pavilion, somebody will hand me a jarritos and Illuminations will start playing out of nowhere thru sheer force of will pic.twitter.com/S7vntHartU
— Robin Lopez (@rolopez42) July 14, 2020
You likely already know by now that there is nary a thing the Lopez brothers love more than Disneyworld. Disneyland, too. Also Disney+. Basically anything Disney, these guys can’t get enough. But something strange has happened to Robin Lopez since his arrival in the bubble. Whether it’s because the park, as he knows it, is barred to him, or he cannot stand the idea that his colleagues cannot experience it as they were meant to, the elder (by one minute) Lopez has really been pouting! He lamented not being on a tour bus destined for Castaway Cay (it was going to practice) and then sat out on an empty patio and wished upon all the stars he was in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion instead.
Rating: Can Donald Duck deliver this guy’s breakfast one morning before things get bleak? Sheesh.
Melo, on a plane just prior to arrival in the bubble, signaled that he was already in a bubble of sorts. The bubble of his mind.
Rating: Look, he’s not wrong.
There are a lot of things to wait to hear from P.J. Tucker on. For example, defensive strategy, or the best tunnel look to serve on any given occasion. Frankly I didn’t know I was waiting to hear what Tucker had to say on nasal swab testing but here we are, and it’s perfect.
Tucker then received a giant TV for his room.
And finally, Tucker took viewers on a tour through his room later this week. Strictly, his shoe collection. Full disclosure, this isn’t even all of it. It just became difficult to continue snapping stills as he excitedly swung the phone around from sneaker-filled quadrant to sneaker-filled quadrant of his hotel room.
Rating: Change ya whole shit up!
McGee took the Lakers perpetual little brother, Kyle Kuzma, to the waterpark this week. That or the elaborate hotel pool adjacent to the Lakers hotel. Imagine being so confident in your (roughly) 11ft arms that you know your phone has no chance of getting wet even as you rocket down a waterslide and into an open pool below? The absolute freedom.
McGee also shared a sign I HOPE is the motto of the Los Angeles Lakers, but for all we know could be the motto of the lifeguards who oversee this pool.
Rating: Getting chills just thinking of the total confidence.
And here’s Kuzma being very cool in the same pool he just got dumped right into, probably while McGee patiently waits for him to get the shot.
Rating: Maybe he was still scared from the slide? Can’t think of any other reason to be this serious in a pool.
Ben Simmons is taking in that Orlando life 🎣
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) July 11, 2020
Don’t worry, there’s a whole section dedicated to the #1 bubble activity thus far — FISHING — below, but for his heroic efforts Simmons gets his own special feature. How does one, with an entire body of water just there right behind him, toss a fish down onto the dock instead? And how does one so explicitly capture the ennui of that feeling in his face, mere seconds before it happens?
Rating: Please, someone, put this on several hundred t-shirts.
Finally go everything set up in my room. Feel free to recommend other books in this thread that I should read. Traveling with a few. Some I like to re-read bc they were that impactful pic.twitter.com/duZD0x64V6
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) July 10, 2020
Bookworm McCollum did the thing all us nerds love to see which is unpacking every book you’ve brought on vacation with the noble intention of finishing as soon as you get there. Like you already forgot what you brought.
Rating: Meanwhile your clothes stay crammed and wrinkling in your suitcase.
Golf is the worst sport imaginable. Idk who the hell invented it
— Josh Hart (@joshhart) July 12, 2020
Who knew it would feel so good to learn one had a lot in common with Josh Hart this week, that is if one also really hates golf but subsequently loves chugging wine on a golf cart.
Rating: Josh Hart, the smartest guy in the NBA?
We know these guys are getting testing a ton but there’s something about Whiteside dutifully recounting what test he was on that really gets me.
Rating: I hope he does this the whole time.
— JJ Redick (@jj_redick) July 12, 2020
Shotgunning stayed strong for, well, approximately only two players so far in the bubble. Redick, however, chose to perform his sitting in an ice bath which, even by JJ Redick standards, seems a liiiiittle bit extra.
Rating: That can probably got cold certified. Hell, probably got past that if there’s anything colder (there isn’t).
Waiters shared his gorgeous view for the next many weeks, an ample perspective of the very well-appointed parking lot.
Rating: Knowing Waiters, he will find the way to make the most of it. Like getting someone to videotape him popping wheelies on his bike or maybe roller skating laps around the lot in record time.
THE BIG THREE
Fishing perhaps received all-time high numbers as a pastime this week. Players in the bubble CAST their fears aside and HOOKED their hopes as well as hours of fun. And well-stocked, slightly stunned from all the getting dropped on docks, fish. Here’s a little roundup of who was ANGLING for a good time:
Happy to note that since this first attempt was captured JV has taken to wearing his mask over his nose as well as mouth. Another victory for fishing.
Powell’s really nailed the forever-yard stare.
Williams attempted to teach Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell how to cast in the hallway of their hotel, hopefully they took the hook off the end of the line.
I can’t decide if George is loving this or hating this, or waiting for the fishing fad to die down so he can roam these plentiful ponds alone.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Food — getting it, complaining about it — was another big theme this week.
What is this giant, secret puke slime ‘moji and where can I get it?
McGee, a vegan, made the best of his specialized meal. I hope he likes green beans. 80lbs of green beans.
Kuz brought his own panini press, obviously.
Finally, rainbows (and gorgeous sunsets) landed in the bubble power rankings this week which, come on, did Disney set some budget aside for this?
And at all the rainbow’s ends are largemouth bass and little individual containers of elbow macaroni.