It’s haaaaaaaappening! I’ll leave it to you to intone that as terrified or excited, because I’ve been oscillating so hard it’s really difficult to tell, but NBA players have arrived or are at this very moment arriving in Orlando to be injected into the bubble. No, they just sort of anti-climatically enter via charter bus into the parking lot of their designated hotel.
This week saw guys packing, giving room tours, smuggling in contraband, and otherwise trying to make the best of and/or make sense of what the next three months (or more) of their lives will look like. Frankly this might be the last stop for us here on NBA Self-Isolation Watch, given that players are for the most part out of self-iso and into another different kind of … semi-iso? We’ll talk about it internally because, if this week is any indication, things in the bubble are going to get squirrelly pretty quick. Meantime, here are the last leaps from self-iso into semi-iso in an action-packed week.
Thompson is back on the grind in rehab and Rocco, his loyal bulldog, is right there with him. Thompson was doing vertical jumps with a weighted backpack on. This screengrab was mid-jump, so Thompson is of course blurry, but I want you to focus on Rocco who is crystal clear due to his stoic and supportive nature of never unnecessarily moving.
Rating: It’s either unfortunate or very freeing to realize the way Klay Thompson describes his dog here is the way you would also describe yourself.
Judging by all the puking emojis in the comments of this from his fellow hoopers, it seems safe to deduce that Mitchell got a new car. Also judging by his face and his legs kicked up in glee.
Rating: I hope he has someone to send him pictures of the car while he’s in the bubble.
Brown arrived to the Orlando bubble and he bought his own, even more exclusive bubble with him. I did not initially consider the specialized training equipment that would accompany players to Florida and am now very interested in seeing more pictures of hotel rooms laden with so much high-tech, futuristic gear that it looks like NASA’s Spacelab*.
Rating: *before it crashed to earth.
Tucker had to pack for the bubble! This would be a docuseries I would watch with RAPT attention, truly. The fits, the combinations, going against every fiber of this man’s very being when it comes to packing practical options over four to seven matching silk pajama suits appropriate for daytime wear. And the shoes! I sincerely hope the Rockets coughed up the cost for additional bags, considering Tucker will have a dozen filled with shoes alone. He probably has shoe-shaped duffle bags that look like specific shoes for specific shoes.
Rating: If the bubble cramps this man’s style so help me.
Beverley celebrated his birthday this week and whoever got/made him this cake knows and loves him very much.
Rating: The little chocolate cigars? The edible money? The only time you should put money in your mouth — eating this cake!
Trae took the boat out on the bay, forgot his job for just one day. Pop-punk classics aside, who had any idea there were lakes this big in Oklahoma?
Rating: A simple Google satellite search will show that there are, indeed, quite a few.
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Happy birthday ! I love you and am thankful for you. So happy you’re able to continue to accomplish and live out your childhood dreams , goals and aspirations. Glad we get to spend another birthday together but this time with you as a Doctor and forever my partner in life @elisespo 💕 ❤️
McCollum celebrated his wife’s, Elise Esposito, birthday this week by taking her to a vineyard where they were so socially distanced it seems to have been just them and the professional photographer, who maybe doubles as a sommelier, who got these shots.
Rating: Elise also recently became a dentist, that’s why C.J.’s calling her a doctor, it’s not like a “doctor wine” thing or anything like that.
Rippin’ on boats was kinda big this week but only one man managed to rip through the most sacred waters of them all.
Rating: Purify yourself!
This week in tandem, celebratory trolling of Pau Gasol, two of the best either teamed up or had the same idea for a joke because their sense of humors do kind of align. Jimmy Butler and Serge Ibaka shared photos of themselves with Gasol, who is definitely not the focal point in either, to wish the senior (and señor) Big Spain a happy birthday.
Rating: But honestly if Ibaka and Butler were the focal points of your birthday, you’d be having a pretty good one.
Please excuse me while I go pick up all the tiny pieces of my heart for they exploded as my eyeballs came in contact with this photo!
Rating: And the avocado toast sneaking in, insult to injury!
Trez very tenderly gave his French bulldog or in his words, his “first daughter,” a bath this week. That little thing got super sudsy and stayed very still, then went out in the yard and dried off on a nice, soft blanket, no doubt exhausted.
Rating: Bathe me like one of your French bulldogs.
Gobert, ever the rule bender, smuggled some serious contraband into the bubble. That’s right, a whole ziplock bag of cherries, and two different varieties at that.
Rating: Horticulture could be a good outlet inside the bubble if he hangs onto these pits and of course does not rub them all over any microphones or recorders on his way to planting them in some fertile patch of swamp.
If there’s one thing Kuz can’t get enough of this summer, it’s half painting Pokemon. I hope he’s coming to Orlando equipped with plenty of canvases so he can sit out on his balcony and give us the Studio Ghibli, Bob Ross, Disney silhouette mashup we want of Kuzma’s mind inside the bubble.
Rating: What can we call this era of art, Neo Kuz Noir?
Robyn Hayward has mastered the art of subtly and deftly trolling her gamer husband for years now. As Gordon Hayward packed up what to the novice eye might look already like enough gaming related equipment, she assures anyone who might be concerned there’s still plenty more to go.
Rating: The “phews” heard round the world could collectively power a rubber duck across a bathtub, if there was no jostling going on in the water.
Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet
The Raptors, as everyone knows because you read this column, arrived in Florida two weeks before the rest of the league did. They’ve been in Naples, south of Orlando, participating in workouts and a lot of leisure time. They have done the impossible, become Florida men without becoming Florida man. To wrap up their time, Siakam and VanVleet golfed together and took part in a very respectable and not too fast golf cart chase.
Rating: The Raptors will soon offer their accumulative advice from this time in a self-help seminar entitled: “Florida Man to Men.”
Whiteside either forgot to pack a pillow for the plane ride to Florida or this is what he uses even while at home. I would believe both.
Rating: The curvature of the ball is a lot better than most airplane pillows, and the pebbled surface might stimulate cells to repair during sleep.
Millsap has honed many new skills during his time in self-iso. A respectable kind of magic that won’t creep you out, cartwheels, cooking, honing an already robust wine knowledge and now, cocktails. If there is one player who is not going to get bored in the bubble and who, furthermore, all the bored players are going to seek out, it’s Paul Millsap.
Rating: Look at the balance of that bottle and watermelon slice! That’s not mixology, that’s physics.
Smith got the news this week that he will be heading to the bubble along with the Lakers, so he took some extra time to snuggle with his new puppy, about five whole minutes.
Rating: The snores coming out of this thing, just picture them.
Otto Porter Jr.
Porter went to visit his mom this week and she, rightly, put him straight to work. He helped around the house and then did some gardening, very uniformly spacing these hostas. He even realigned the bricks around the garden bed.
Rating: Deft at many types of bricks, you could say. But don’t say that, because it’s mean.
Winslow got to the bubble and very adeptly took a photo that works as a testament to these twisted, twisted times. The joy of late capitalism as we, its participants, trundle along in its very belly.
Rating: It is a bit rich though that Disney sent these jolly Disney braided buses to pick up players at the airport, isn’t it? Please let’s not also normalize human sized duck children who also don’t wear pants in all this.
Fournier was one of the first to get to Disney World, being that the Magic are like what, around the corner from the park? He was also one of the first to demonstrate what might be a growing concern for the NBA in the coming weeks — the toll of player boredom in their hotel rooms and the extremely jacked up potential for sprained ankles and wrists.
Rating: Cirque du Soleil’s tryouts are the next bubble over!
Kelly Oubre Jr.
Much has already been made about the food in the bubble but you really do have to hand it to the person in charge of it on Kelly Oubre Jr.’s floor for their efficiency. Why make two trips mere hours apart when you can bag ‘em both, slap ‘em on a tray, and call it a day?
Rating: Who said efficiency ratings would go down in the bubble?
Ross (safely) lit off some fireworks with his family on the fourth. They might be close enough to his Disney hotel that they can communicate via flare like frigates in the night now, or they can probably just FaceTime.
Rating: As far as baby’s first fireworks, Roman Candles are a nice option.
Boucher played my favorite Akon song very aptly from his pre-bubble bubble balcony in Naples.
Rating: This guy is getting big on jokes and I’m here for it.
It was also Bembry’s birthday this week and boy did he do it big. He flew a safe amount of friends down to the Virgin Isles, took a lot of boat rides, jumped off a boat and ate some wonderfully, wonderfully thematic cakes.
Rating: 26 never looked so occupationally-related and edible.