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    COLUMN: An eerie feeling that NBA's bubble plan is about to burst

    Jun 22, 2020
    spin zone

    CHICAGO - A chewing gum bubble bursts. Financial bubbles crash.

    And soap bubbles rinse.

    That's just the nature of anything with a vacuum.

    With the first phase of the scheduled NBA reopening already in progress - the Toronto Raptors are scheduled to arrive in Orlando on June 22 with testing for coronavirus set to begin June 23 - one major concern hangs in the air.

    Will the NBA's bubble protect the league long enough to finish the 2019-20 season amid the relentless assault of an extremely contagious disease?

    Given how the NBA has summoned its bottomless resources to implement all the safety measures necessary, I am hopeful it will.

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    Play doesn't begin until July 30, but right now the signs are troubling.

    According to The Orlando Sentinel, the state of Florida is fast becoming a pandemic hotspot with a total of 97,291 cases and 3,254 deaths including non-residents. As of today alone Florida had 3,494 positive tests, a single-day record.

    In Orange County, where the bubble is set up, 345 new infections were detected, bumping the total to 4,914.

    And here's a scary thought. Florida governor Ron DeSantis said that "a vast majority" of the new cases involve younger patients. This declaration eviscerates the myth that younger and healthier persons such as NBA players are not necessarily prone to infection.

    If there is an organization that can be trusted during challenging times, it's the NBA. Short of letting the players wear Star Wars Storm Trooper uniforms for protection, the league will do everything to ward off the virus.

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    Unfortunately, the NBA has no authority over Walt Disney Resort staff who can come in and out of the bubble and will not be subject to the stringent daily testing protocols that players and NBA personnel will go through.

    Absent that, per several epidemiologists interviewed by ESPN, the NBA really cannot hold a "true bubble."

    An easy solution will be to test those staff employees, hotel housekeepers included, who may come in contact with the players.

    That, however, is easier said than done.

    Disney employees. which are in the thousands, are unionized. They do not march to the beat of NBA commissioner Adam Silver's drum.

    And even if those Disney staffers submit to daily tests, you have to wonder if Florida health officials will put the NBA's bubble as a priority over county residents that have been ravaged by COVID-19.

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    With 22 teams allowed to bring in up to 35 people in the bubble, the NBA has an expectation that positive results will come back once the aggressive testing commences.

    But I assume it will be the number of said positive tests that will determine whether the restart soldiers on or stops completely altogether.

    Unfortunately, who gets infected will tremendously affect the integrity of the season.

    What if LeBron James of the L.A. Lakers or Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks contract the virus during the playoffs and must sit out the Finals?

    Doesn't that kill all the excitement? And do you then affix an asterisk next to the 2020 NBA champion?

    I have no doubt that once the action begins, the NBA will take our breath away. But until then we might have to hold our breath.


      A POPEMOBILE FOR LEBRON? After the All-Star Game ended last February 16 at the United Center, I crossed paths with ESPN NBA senior writer Brian Windhorst as I was walking along with my two writers in the crowded inner bowels of the arena.

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      Windhorst, whom I have become friendly with over the years, jokingly told me to "tell the NBA" to resume play in the Philippines after the All-Star break. At that time, our country had not been gripped by the coronavirus.

      Windy, as pals call him, now has an even funnier idea.

      A popemobile for LeBron.

      Maybe the Lakers should get one. This may, after all, be the last legitimate championship shot for the 35-year old king.

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      PHOTO: AP
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