Sports

How to Get Inside the NBA Bubble as a Player’s “Guest”

Jae Crowder and Ricky Rubio hug
Jae Crowder of the Miami Heat and Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns hug after their game at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Saturday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Pool/Getty Images

The NBA’s Walt Disney World bubble is working. The league announced on Wednesday that its latest batch of coronavirus tests yielded zero positive cases from 342 players. Care and caution have won the day yet again. Basketball goes on.

For those of us outside the bubble, this prudence ensures there are no interruptions to the deliriously entertaining stream of games we’ve come to expect. For the players cloistered inside The Most Magical Place on Earth™, it means they get to go fishing on the same man-made lake with their teammates every day.

While the games officially started in late July, teams had to hunker down for weeks beforehand. To their credit, players haven’t complained too much about their bizarre situations, but isolation is difficult to handle no matter which theme park you happen to be quarantining inside. It started to wear on LeBron James as soon as Aug. 3, when he told reporters: “I miss the hell out of my family. My wife, my kids, my mother. And so on and so on. So, it’s a huge challenge.

That crushing loneliness should only be temporary. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA Players Association negotiated an agreement with the league to allow guests inside the bubble starting after the opening round of the playoffs.

Technically, LeBron would be allowed to bring his wife, kids, and mother under these rules. Whom else could he invite? Dwyane Wade? Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Lithuanian powerlifter Zydrunas Savickas (no relation)? That’s where it gets a little more complicated.

In a memo obtained by Wojnarowski, the league outlines some of the specifics of its plan. Guests will have to quarantine for seven days before being allowed inside the bubble, and, once there, they are not allowed to leave (even to go on the rides).

Players can invite nonfamilial acquaintances, but the league states that they must be an “established longstanding personal friend.” It is unclear how the NBA plans to check or enforce this wrinkle. Inside jokes? Matching pendants? Forcing them to recall details from summer camp talent show performances?

The memorandum also includes a DM-sliding provision, stating that people “known by the player only through social media or an intermediary” will not be permitted as guests. If J.R. Smith sabotages the Lakers in the first round, we’ll know why.

“There was significant discussion and planning about how some guests could impact the league’s environment,” reports Wojnarowski, “and that’s reflected in the language of rules that prohibit those with business relationships, including agents, chefs, trainers and tattoo artists, according to the memo.”

So, do you qualify? To find out, consult our helpful guide:

Who are you?

I am Boban Marjanovic’s tattoo artist. Am I allowed in the bubble?

No. It literally just said no personal tattoo artists.

But it is his first tattoo.

Still not allowed.

But we’re friends.

According to the league, you need to be “established longstanding personal friends” with the player. Can you prove this?

I have a photo of us together from our visit to the Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, Missouri.

Boban Marjanovic is 7 feet, 4 inches tall. There is no way he could fit in that cave. Was this Photoshopped?

Yes.

You are still not allowed.

OK, but what if it weren’t Photoshopped? Could I come to his games then?

That’s up to him. Players are only permitted to give out one ticket per playoff game.

I am a child. Can I tag along with another one of his guests?

How tall are you?

83.82 centimeters.

What’s that in inches?

33 inches.

Sorry.

So, you’re telling me that Boban Marjanovic’s 33-inch child tattoo artist who faked evidence of a trip to Missouri is not allowed in the NBA’s bubble?

Exactly. The rules are very simple.

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