Since July 9, the Los Angeles Lakers have been at Disney World in the NBA bubble, preparing for the playoffs while completely isolated from their families, friends and the outside world. The rest of the players, staff and other employees that remain in Florida for the second round of the NBA playoffs have been doing the same.
NBA players make a lot of money for this sacrifice, to be sure, but it still clearly hasn’t been easy. Lakers star LeBron James spoke openly on multiple occasions about how much he missed his family, and several other members of the team and coaching staff have voiced similar complaints.
This week, that ended. Players got to start having guests for the second round of the playoffs (after they went through a few days of quarantine, of course). Not every Laker brought their entire family, but those that did were ecstatic to see their wives and kids. But for children — like JaVale McGee’s daughter Genevieve — who were just stuck in a hotel room for days and were dealing with a timezone change, the feeling wasn’t always mutual.
JaVale and Gigi reunited aaaaand she's asleep pic.twitter.com/yCqF6CBMeC— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) September 4, 2020
Because of how mentally exhausting the quarantine process would be on families with young children, and how — despite the bubble being at Disney World — there aren’t a lot of things for kids to do because of the strict safety and isolation protocols, Markieff Morris had previously said he wouldn’t be having his wife and daughter come for the whole time. But he says his daughter did better in quarantine this week than he expected, and admitted it was a relief to have them joining him for at least a little bit.
“It’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from my family. I’ve missed them a lot. I missed my daughter a whole lot. I missed my wife a whole lot. I’m just happy to have them here to come see a game and spend some time with me,” Morris said.
James feels similarly, but was clearly still disappointed because the circumstances only allowed for his wife to join him, rather than the entire James Gang.
“It’s definitely a blessing to have my wife here. But my kids are back in L.A. still. My mom is back in Ohio,” James said.
He’s not the only disappointed by the restrictive nature for guests. Danny Green joked that he wanted to start a petition for the NBA to let him bring his dogs in, or to at least allow dogs on campus. Kyle Kuzma has also talked about how much he misses his new puppy, Snoh. But Green and teammate Devontae Cacok’s fiancees are joining them in the bubble, as is Kuzma’s girlfriend. Other players have guests too, which will allow a lot of these guys to get some support from — and have interaction with — people that they don’t work with.
Plus, I think we can all agree that another benefit is the Baby Section, which should now be mandatory at all NBA games for the rest of time.
look at all the babies watching the game pic.twitter.com/vxwR0sBo7O— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 4, 2020
Still, Morris noted that it’s also crucial that the Lakers don’t let themselves get too distracted.
“Seeing our families is one of the most important things, but we’ve got to keep to the task at hand, and that’s coming here to win a championship,” Morris said.
James doesn’t think that will be a problem.
“I’m definitely happy that (my wife) is here, but I keep the main thing the main thing,” James said. “When I’m on the floor, it’s all about how I can be better for my teammates, how I can make plays offensively and defensively, and then see my wife after the game.”
After two months in isolation, at least he now has that option.