Although the NBA has prioritized establishing safety protocols for the players making the trip to Orlando, Florida, they also made efforts to provide a sense of normality inside the Walt Disney World bubble.
After all, players expressed their initial concerns with the prospect of having to stay confined for anywhere from four weeks to over three months. The league is hoping that they can find a way to take advantage of all the amenities that Walt Disney World has to offer, such as players-only lounges, access to swimming pools, and trails for running or riding bikes.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts was also made aware of the importance of having barbers on-site to help players stay fresh for the duration of their stay. It appears the onus ultimately fell on Will Rondo, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo, to make it come to fruition.
Rondo is all too familiar with with just how superstitious players can be one game days. According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Eric Woodyard, he made sure getting top-notch barbers was a point of emphasis:
When Rondo heard from his brother that the NBA was going to restart in Orlando, he reached out to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, whom he has known for years, to ask how he could help. He knew players were creatures of habit, fond of the same pregame meal, the same warm-up music, the same routine — and that, in Orlando, they’d still want a fresh cut from their barber of choice.
“Part of the NBA is style, it’s swag, it’s charisma,” Rondo said. “I’ve always been taught, when you look good, you feel good, when you feel good, you play good — that type of thing. And barbers are a central part of our NBA players’ appearance.”
While the process took some time, Rondo had no shortage of suitors hoping to be picked for the trip:
It was up to Rondo to compile a 50-person list. He leaned on the relationships he’d built with barbers and stylists who had become close with NBA players — the ones players would call as soon as their plane landed, or would ask them to make a house call before a national TV game. Roughly a third of them quickly told Rondo they couldn’t leave their family or their business — or both. But many others pitched themselves aggressively, offering up their experience, accolades and high-end clientele.
It is safe to say that providing assistance appears to be a family trait for the Rondo’s. His experience helping his brother handle the logistics of the NBA lifestyle helped him start his own hospitality company called Superior Global Travel & Concierge.
There will now be six barbers working the three barbershops set up in each hotel where the teams are staying. While they are expected to be paid a flat rate by the NBA and NBPA with tips included, giving haircuts to such high-end clientele should make the trip well worth it for them.
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