The NBA unveiled its bubble-like campus to the 22 teams who were invited to finish the season in Orlando, Florida, nearly four weeks ago. Since then, players, coaches and other key personnel have settled in and found unique ways to keep themselves busy when they’re not practicing or working out.
What has been the best activity thus far in the bubble? From pingpong to pool parties, here are the 10 best things for the players to do while on lockdown.
While not technically “bubble” activities (because they happened during practice and not off hours), both of these nonbasketball sports looked pretty fun when the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks took part in them.
10. DJ parties
On one of the first nights on campus, the league hosted poolside parties with DJs spinning tunes at each of the three resorts hosting NBA teams. They were not a rousing success.
A lack of awareness might have played a role in that, but it seems like NBA players are finding other activities more interesting in the campus environment.
Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell pretend to be DJs and host a dance party on the balconies of their hotels with their Mavericks teammates, including Luka Doncic.
Card playing got a lot of pre-bubble attention when it was revealed that the NBA’s safety guidelines called for each deck of cards to be discarded after being used. It turns out, all that bubble hubbub might have been for nothing; there haven’t been a ton of NBA card games that we’ve seen so far. Maybe without being confined to an airplane while traveling from city to city, players are finding other things to do.
UNO’s real serious around here pic.twitter.com/8o8DO6QpHq
— Mo Bamba (@TheRealMoBamba) July 14, 2020
8. Video games
Per the NBA’s restart guidelines, each team’s common space was equipped with video game stations, and some players chose to bring their own rigs.
Gaming would rank higher, except it’s not really a bubble activity; it’s something players do all the time, even before stay-at-home orders turned many casual gamers into streamers.
Heat center Meyers Leonard gives a tour of his gaming setup inside his hotel room at the NBA bubble.
7. Table Tennis
Another activity that was maligned due to safety rules (no doubles!) has turned out to be quite popular on campus. The Spurs held a teamwide tournament that looked pretty competitive. San Antonio might not extend its 22-year playoff streak, but the Spurs can still say they crowned a champion in Orlando.
An updated look at the Spurs Bubble Ping Pong Tournament bracket 👀 pic.twitter.com/s7vTWyr22J
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 18, 2020
Congrats to athletic development coach Kelly Forbes, the Spurs Bubble Ping Pong Champion! 🏓🏆 pic.twitter.com/H3isq2qG7x
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 18, 2020
6. Beach volleyball
Located in central Florida, Walt Disney World isn’t actually home to many real beaches, but the man-made ones at the resorts have been turned into beach volleyball courts, where players like Tacko Fall have reinforced the notion that you can’t teach height.
Celtics players, including Enes Kanter, Tacko Fall and Marcus Smart, play 2-on-2 beach volleyball in Orlando.
5. Pool life
Five words: JaVale McGee on a waterslide.
Kyle Kuzma convinces JaVale McGee to go down a waterslide inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
4. Content creation
While not an officially sanctioned NBA campus activity, players becoming content creators has become something of a trend. Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle launched a video diary, and McGee soon followed. Damian Lillard has a recording studio in his room, and it’s all but certain that multiple player-hosted podcasts are sure to launch.
This is the time of year when many NBA players would typically be hitting the links, so it’s no surprise to see them doing it at Walt Disney World, where they have access to a PGA Tour-level course. Some players, like Mavericks guard Seth Curry, looked right at home, while others showed off swings that would make even Charles Barkley cringe.
— NBA Bubble Life (@NBABubbleLife) July 16, 2020
Never let it be said that Chris Paul isn’t a competitor.
Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley play cornhole at the Walt Disney World Resort in the lead-up to the NBA restart.
“I saw some stuff on social media where guys were playing bags,” he said. “Let me just tell you something, I come from the sticks, No. 1. No. 2, I went to the University of Illinois. I am nice at bags. So anybody can meet me there.”
Maybe Paul and Leonard can team up and take on Tyler Zeller and athletic development coach Kelly Forbes, who won the Spurs’ cornhole tournament. (Yes, the Spurs held ANOTHER bubble tournament. They might be the bubble activity champs.)
Ben Simmons catches a fish and holds it up before throwing it back, to Josh Richardson’s excitement in response.
OK, so fishing got off to a rough start when Ben Simmons literally couldn’t throw a fish into the water (and literally everyone on #NBATwitter joked about it), but in the days and weeks since, fishing has proved to be the most popular activity among players. It’s all catch-and-release, so no one is bringing any trophies home (or cooking up any fish dinners on hotel room hot plates), but that hasn’t stopped players from proudly showing off their catches on social media.
Catch of the day 🐟 pic.twitter.com/oZ6g429Wx5
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) July 21, 2020