The NBA’s ability to complete the season in its Walt Disney World Resort “bubble” depends on participants following the rules to keep everyone inside free from the coronavirus.
Actually achieving that goal might not be easy, according to Damian Lillard.
The Portland Trail Blazers’ All-Star guard said Wednesday regarding strict adherence to isolating protocols, “My confidence ain’t great because you’re telling me you’re gonna have 22 teams full of players following all the rules? When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody don’t follow all the rules.
“I don’t have much confidence, but hopefully it’ll be handled to a point where we’re not putting everybody at risk or in a dangerous position.”
Players and staffers will be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando. Following a period of self-quarantine for 36 to 48 hours, they will be tested again. After that, there will be regular testing, and newcomers (including family members) won’t be allowed into the “bubble” until after the first round of the playoffs — more than a month after the players arrive in central Florida.
“The fact that we’re going to be in a bubble, it kind of knocks it down and limits the chance of us being exposed to everybody else outside the bubble in Orlando,” Lillard said. “I think it is a safer situation. But I don’t think it’s possible for them to protect us 100 percent. I think everybody’s going there understanding that.”
Lillard plans to keep to himself.
“I know there’re going to (be) activities for us and all that stuff, but I mean, I’m gonna be chilling,” he said. “I feel like there’s still a possibility for something to spread within that bubble, just with so many people doing so many different things that we’ve got to follow to be safe, even though we’re not exposed to the public.
“So for me, it’s going to be: What time is practice, what time can I get in the weight room, what time can I get some shots up, what’s the plan for game day. And then I’m gonna be in the room. I’m gonna have my PS3, my PS4, I’m gonna have my studio equipment, my mic, my laptop, I’m gonna have all my books. That’s it, man. I’m gonna be in the room, chilling.”
Lillard might not be at Disney World long unless the Blazers perform well in their eight remaining regular-season games. Ninth-place Portland (29-37) is 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the final Western Conference playoff berth.
A ninth-place team that finishes within four games of an eighth-place team would get to compete in a play-in battle for that postseason place.
“It’s basically an eight-game season, and we’re starting off behind,” Lillard said. “The only thing I asked for was the opportunity to make it, and we’ve been given that, so we’re going to show up and do what we gotta do. Simple as that.”