The NBA has not been immune to the nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases. Over the past week, five games have been postponed and far more players have been forced to miss games either with positive tests or due to the league’s contact tracing efforts. The league, to this point, has proven unwilling to pause the season to either wait for a vaccine or simply come up with safer ways to play basketball.
The league did manage to find a safe way to complete the 2019-20 season in the shadow of the pandemic thanks to its Orlando bubble. No players caught the virus at Disney, and once the season picked back up, the playoffs were completed without any virus-related delays. Some have argued that if the NBA is truly committed to playing out this season, it should consider going back into a bubble in order to ensure the safety of its players.
But those players aren’t exactly interested in the idea of another bubble. Reports have widely claimed that players viewed another bubble as a non-starter, and LeBron James confirmed that notion. When a reporter asked him how he’d feel about going back into a bubble, he cited PTSD from his first experience as a reason why he wouldn’t want to go back and do it again.
“Well the bubble was a success, obviously, from a performance standpoint as far as our league getting back on,” James said. “I haven’t thought about the bubble much after I left. You continue to give me PTSD every time you ask me about the bubble. I started shaking thinking about 96 straight nights in that place.”
This sentiment has been common among players from almost every team that played in Orlando for a multitude of reasons. Nobody wants to be separated from their friends and family for an extended period of time, nor do they want to be away from their homes. Boredom was a commonly cited issue as well, and socially conscious players were limited in how much they could support causes that were important to them from inside of the bubble.
There have been no reports indicating that the NBA would seriously consider another bubble no matter how much COVID-19 interrupts play. Now, we likely know why. Even if the NBA wanted to pursue the idea, the players would never buy into that idea. Before the bubble was even formed, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley famously said that “if LeBron James said he hooping, we all hooping.” Well, if LeBron says no to a bubble, everyone else is saying no as well.