The Los Angeles Lakers arrived at the Walt Disney World bubble last Thursday on the latest possible date of a three-day stretch scheduled by NBA. With health and safety a priority, the league staggered team arrivals in Orlando from July 7-9.
Given that the Lakers were not first to enter the bubble, they had an opportunity to witness other players’ reactions to the environment. Most notably was feedback on packaged food players received during the initial quarantine phase.
The NBA was at the expense of jokes across social media, but whether head coach Frank Vogel, LeBron James, Anthony Davis or anyone else with the organization, the Lakers have shared nothing but a positive outlook on the bubble setting.
“I’m just taking it all in. For me, I’m all about the process. I’m here for one goal and one goal only,” James said ahead of the Lakers’ first practice. “That’s to win a championship. And to get better every single day. That’s my mindset. My mindset is to do that on the floor. My mindset off the floor is to continue to give education, continue to give guidance to my communities and communities around the world, in the inner city about how important our voice is, how important we are, and creating change.
“That is my main focus. I’m here to do nothing else besides play the game at high level, bring a championship back to L.A. hopefully and also continue to push the envelope with creating change for my people.”
Davis admittedly had yet to take advantage of the various amenities, but noted he was perfectly comfortable filling time in his hotel room. “I haven’t been doing much. I’ve been in the room playing video games with other guys on the team,” Davis said.
“Everybody brought their gaming system, so we’ve been online playing against each other or being teammates. I think for the most part guys are just sitting back in their room and enjoying their time playing video games.
“I know the NBA is trying to make this as comfortable and relaxing as possible for us. I think what they’re doing is great, to try and make this feel like home for the next one, two or three months. They’re doing things to help guys stay in their routine off the floor and keep their daily lives as far as going to theme parks on some days, or golfing, boating or fishing and stuff like that. They’re trying to make this as normal as possible for us.”
For Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the setting isn’t all that unfamiliar. “The bubble has been good for me, actually. I’m not a big complainer,” he said. “Stuff we’re doing here — just chilling in our room — is stuff I do at home. If I’m not with the kids, I’m chilling, playing my video games, watching TV on my laptop. It’s pretty much stuff I do at home. No complaints from me.”
Alex Caruso shared a similar sentiment: “The bubble has been fine for me. Once we got here and we got out of the initial quarantine, it’s been pretty chill. I put it in a couple of terms that it’s almost like a professional summer camp.
“Obviously there’s a lot more going on with health regulations and cultural events, but essentially we’re playing basketball, hanging out with teammates and just enjoying ourselves any way we can. Whether it’s golf, fishing, riding a bike, or just going and sitting by the pool, it’s been pretty easy for me to adjust. I don’t want to speak for everybody as a whole, but it’s been pretty simple.”
Bonding not an issue for Lakers
With the Lakers hopeful to make a championship run, the team could find themselves in the Orlando bubble for three months. “If you have a group that’s tied together and enjoys each other, this is an environment you can thrive in,” Vogel said.
“If you have a team where maybe that chemistry isn’t that strong, there’s great risk with spending too much time together. It’s something I think all 22 of us teams are measuring. I feel really good about the vibe we had in the regular season prior to the hiatus, and it feels the same now.
“We’re all excited about working every day, the process, getting better and building habits. I look forward to seeing it play out in games on the court.”
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