The NBA has been praised for its Orlando bubble experiment which allowed the season to resume in a safe environment. But while players can enjoy playing competitive basketball again, the Walt Disney World setting poses significant multilayered challenges to the entire Los Angeles Lakers organization and other teams participating in the NBA restart.
The teams are severely understaffed as they were allowed to send just 35 people to the bubble, including players, coaches and staff. That is why the Lakers crew, including vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka, have been stepping up in any role necessary as part of their ‘flex staffing’ policy.
Pelinka has even been involved in the team’s shooting drills. Meanwhile, LeBron James has had to carry his own ice bucket around the Walt Disney World complex. But James is taking those new, and surely unusual, responsibilities with humble, showing his off-the-court leadership again.
Describing the collective effort everyone in the Lakers crew is putting in to power through the challenging bubble experiment, Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group relayed how James helped team equipment manager Andrew Henk and head athletic trainer Nina Hsieh load an elevator after a 103-101 victory over the L.A. Clippers:
The Lakers’ first official game in the bubble was a three-hour marathon against the Clippers. LeBron James returned to the Gran Destino like his teammates in need of a shower and a meal. But as he saw Hsieh, Henk, and other support staff loading an elevator with bags to whisk up and store on their floor, he stopped to help out.
“I mean he played, so he’s tired and he’s hungry. And he’s still helping us,” Hsieh said. “That’s kind of what it’s been like. That’s what everybody has done.”
Before the Lakers left for the bubble, Pelinka highlighted the importance of flex staffing, as well as the work of those who help the team remotely. “We’re going to all have to call upon different things we can do and be servant-oriented for the players,” he said.
“If it means any of us pitching in to an area that we normally don’t do on our day-to-day operations, we’ve got to be willing to do it.”
James getting ‘more comfortable with the bubble’
After a much-improved performance in against the Denver Nuggets, James said he is not yet entirely set in the playoff mindset. But he is regaining his rhythm and is confident he will be ready for the playoffs.
“I feel like my legs have gotten better and better, my game has improved more and more, I’m getting more and more comfortable with the bubble,” James said. “But as far as the mental side of it, I’m not there and our team isn’t.”
“But we will be. It’s a different type of mindset you have to be in, but you don’t want to jump into before you actually get there because it takes a lot of energy and effort.”
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