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    • As many of you know, the NBA is planning to restart their season at the end of July at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida. The schedule has been released and despite many players (16+ to be exact) testing positive for COVID-19, the league isn't slowing things down. At least, not yet.

      The league's hope is to keep the players in a bubble and away from the rest of the world so as to not get infected. Players who get infected will have to self-isolate until they are cleared by competent medical professionals to return to action. This of course creates some crazy scenarios in which teams may have to scramble a bit to find replacement players, grabbing some players out of the free agency pool.

      At the moment, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he feels confident with where they are at, though they will continue to monitor the situation closely and play things by ear as needed. Personally, I'm still a bit skeptical of this all working out the way they hope it will. Having everyone compete in one complex and hope the virus doesn't spread like crazy, seems a little naive to me. I know they are hoping to rely on advanced technology, world class health care, and extreme safety precautions to get through this, but I have my doubts. Anyone else feel the same way?

    • Oh, man. I am so hopeful they pull this off! But it is going to be a very weird thing without fans in the stadium. It will be interesting to see how much that makes a difference to the players and the quality of play.

      On a more personal note, I wonder how this is going to impact players and their families. Joe Ingles is a Jazz player from Australia (he and his wife have been broadcasting a podcast I’ve listened to). His wife, Renae, is also a world-class athlete (retired now). They have young twins (a girl and a boy). Their son was recently diagnosed with autism, so Joe and Renae decided to become advocates for parents who are also trying to navigate the world of autism. In addition to that, Joe just announced that Renae is pregnant again. So, obviously, the Ingles’ have a lot to be concerned about with regard to this NBA bubble...

      In addition, of course, it was two Jazz players testing positive for the virus that abruptly halted the season in the first place. Since then, Rudy Gobert has mostly recovered, but still hasn’t got his sense of smell back—and Donovan Mitchell has had to face some ugly racism himself as he has been actively discussing the Black Lives Matter protests online. (Donovan played for Louisville before he was drafted into the NBA and is particularly focused on the case of Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was killed by police in her own apartment when the police raided it with a no-knock warrant.) He talked about it on a video that was featured at the ESPYs.

      Anyway... I am curious to see how this bubble idea will work, and happy at the prospect of seeing professional basketball in action again.

      Lest anyone think these players are going to be pampered to death at WDW, Andy Larsen (Jazz sports writer for the Salt Lake Tribune) recently posted this tweet:

      Ha! Yuck.

    • I'm with you. I'm excited to see the NBA return and am really interested in seeing how this "bubble" will work out for everyone. A guy like Joe Ingles very well may not play for concerns of his family. I didn't think of him, but you're right, he's in a situation where he would have a legit excuse to opt out.

      As for Gobert and Mitchell, it will be interesting to see if their relationship can be repaired since there were reports of it being rocky due to the virus and how Gobert was so cavalier about the whole thing.

      Mitchell is a super cool guy. One of the guys who plays at Cal, Joel Brown, played at the same high school program as Mitchell (Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire) and is tight with Mitchell's sister Jordan. Brown told me Mitchell is the nicest guy and that his sister is really nice, too. Seems like a great family, so I'm not surprised that Mitchell is as socially active as he is!

    • Donovan is awesome.

      I would like to think the strain between Rudy and Donovan hasn’t been as bad as the sports guys have made it out to be. The Jazz had really marketed those two as great buddies before the pandemic—they did lots of ads together that aired during the local game broadcasts.

      My hope for team camaraderie went up a notch after I heard the Ingles’ talk with Coach Quin Snyder on their podcast—that guy seems like just an amazing person: extremely intelligent (he has a law degree), very aware of the political dynamics playing out in the league right now, and totally supportive of his players as human beings, not just as basketball players.

      BTW, I read today that Mike Conley is another one with reason to pass on the bubble...he and his wife have a baby on the way due at the end of August...

    • Looks like Mike Conley is gonna play. The team has been strategizing about how they will make up for Bojan Bogdanović’s absence. 😕 BB is recovering from a surgery and won’t be ready to play in time. He is a go-to 3-point shooter.

    • No reason Gobert and Mitchell shouldn't be able to patch things up. There are teammates who have had way worse issues.

      The Jazz are one of those teams who might shock everyone and win the title, so I'm sure that's playing a big role in their motivation to put any differences in the rear view mirror.

    • The Jazz need Mike Conley. I know he hasn't delivered like they hoped he would, but they need all the bodies they can and maybe Conley will finally have things click in Orlando.

      Losing Bogdanovic definitely hurts them as he was their main 3-point threat. But Quin Snyder is one of the best coaches in the NBA, if not the best. So, I'm confident he'll figure something out.

      Snyder is also a really good dude. One of our national reporters at mentioned how much Snyder helped him out when he was just getting started in the business. That was really nice to hear.

    • Another issue I have is whether or not the players will fully get on board. It's possible that the closer we get to the restart of the season, the more players we have bail for one reason or another.

      This is an issue that is hard to measure. Will it reveal who really loves to play the game (as opposed to loves the money, loves the adulation, loves the power)? Will we see which teams really have a team-first mindset?

    • Exactly. This whole thing could be quite revealing, though I am sympathetic to guys wanting to rest up if their team isn’t really in the mix. Some teams, like the Utah Jazz, have to look at this as a golden opportunity to steal one. For all the reasons you said.

    • There is so much money at stake that they all really want to make this work. After a few outbreaks people will get the seriousness of the situation and the gravity of losing tons of money. At that point you’ll see them get serious about socially isolating. I think there may be a few outbreaks and stalls but it’ll go ahead despite this.