I haven’t been to summer camp since I was a child, but if it’s anything like what NBA players are about to experience at Disney World when they return to work in July, where do I sign up?
According to The Athletic, on Tuesday, the league sent out a 108-page memo outlining what teams can expect when they make that move to Orlando and resume what’s left of the 2019-20 NBA season—a season marred by the death of Kobe Bryant and three months of inactivity (and counting) due to the coronavirus.
Will Mickey Mouse referee games? Will players be treated to unlimited rides? Life inside of the NBA’s bubble will be unlike anything NBA players have ever experienced before, but the league wants to make it explicitly clear that it will also make combating racial inequality a priority.
“A central goal of our season restart will be to utilize the NBA’s platform to bring attention and sustained action to issues of social injustice, including combating systemic racism, expanding educational and economic opportunities across the Black community, enacting meaningful police and criminal justice reform and promoting greater civic engagement,” the memo reads. “We are in discussions with the players association to develop a comprehensive strategy on how the NBA, its teams and players can best address these important issues and uniquely position our league to drive action and create meaningful and generational change.”
Presumably, this is to alleviate concerns that the NBA’s return will detract from the progress being made by the Black Lives Matter movement in light of the death of George Floyd—an issue that has created a civil war of sorts within the NBA’s pool of players.
The memo also states that players reserve the right not to play and that those who decline to participate “will have his compensation reduced by 1/92.6 for each game missed up to a cap of 14 games, even if his team plays more than 14 games in Orlando.” No other reductions in pay will be assessed, such as fines for missing practice. Players are required to notify their team by June 24th of their decision.
The actual season itself will be broken down into six phases, with mandatory COVID-19 testing beginning on June 23 upon arrival at their team practice facilities. On July 7, teams will report to the Disney World complex in Orlando and be quarantined until they provide two negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart.
Each player will also be required to wear a mask at all times, as well as a MagicBand, which serves as a room key, wallet and check-in device for use throughout their hotel and Disney properties. Players will also have the option to wear a proximity alarm “that will notify a player if he spends more than five seconds within six feet of another person on campus who is also wearing an alarm.” These will be mandatory for team and league staff.
As for life off the court, players are prohibited from entering hotel rooms that they aren’t assigned to. Also of note, any player who leaves campus without approval with be subject to a 10-day quarantine without pay upon their return. Those allowed to leave due to “extenuating circumstances” should expect a four-day quarantine upon returning.
But for those who stay on campus, what is there to actually do?
The Athletic also noted that hotels will include a players-only lounge complete with arcade games, ping pong, DJ sets, movie nights, lawn games and other ways to keep players occupied, as well as comedy shows and concerts. Mental health will also be given priority, with access to virtual chaplains, mental health services and yoga/meditation available to players. Barbers and other personal grooming services will be made available by appointment and players will also have access to pools and trails to ride bikes or go jogging. Additionally, there will be bowling, boating, golfing and fishing, as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Wild Africa Trek on hand to keep players occupied—though sadly, it sounds like the amusement park is off-limits.
Considering the circumstances, this doesn’t sound like such a bad deal, although, I can’t help but wonder how this will all affect the quality of basketball we see on the court.