The handbook that the NBA sent out to teams spelling out the details of what life will be like in the Disney World campus for the coming resumption of the season was mostly full of mundane, straightforward, common-sense stuff.
It also included a few unexpectedly noteworthy tidbits, such as the prohibition of doubles pingpong; the provision of barbers and manicurists; mandating that decks of playing cards be tossed out after each gaming session; and a hotline for anonymously snitching on protocol violators.
Every time you think this season can’t get any weirder …
Several media organizations obtained a copy of the handbook and spilled the beans about the rules spelled out therein. Most of it, naturally, was painstakingly crafted measures intended to keep safe amid what amounts to a mass gathering during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
For instance, players have been given the option not to attend. If they don’t feel comfortable with the risks, they have until June 24 to let their teams know they’re not coming. And aside from forfeiting the salary they’d be getting for those games, they can do so without penalty.
As for those who do go, each team will be limited to bringing a 35-person travel party to Orlando — including up to 17 players, a front-office executive, a trainer, a strength and conditioning coach, an equipment manager, and a security official. After that … coaches … videographers … support staff … an individual player’s personal trainer or chef or bodyguard? Regardless of the combination, it’s 35 total personnel per team.
Meanwhile, upon arriving at the NBA Campus, everyone will be required to isolate and quarantine themselves in their own room until they’ve passed two coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart. And no one is allowed inside anyone else’s personal room — at all, period, for any reason — due to infection concerns.
Disney chefs will cook meals and provide room-service options. Pretty much no outside food deliveries, though. And if you want to eat with a player from another team, you have to do it outside.
Disney resort employees are not required to live within the bubble, and also aren’t required to undergo coronavirus testing. They will have their temperature taken and be screened for symptoms before entering the campus, though.
Speaking of which, NBA security will monitor who’s coming and going, and while there won’t be anyone physically barring players from leaving the campus, they are expected to stay put unless they’ve got an authorized reason for bailing (like, say, offsite medical care, or a death in the family). Still, any player who departs the campus will get a 10- to 14-day quarantine and a nasal-swab COVID-19 test before allowed back in the bubble. Unauthorized departures are subject to stiff penalties, such as fines, suspensions, even potential expulsion.
There were also incredibly detailed instructions about how the shared basketballs used in the facilities will be cleaned, starting with “a quarter-teaspoon of dish detergent per gallon of water” and concluding with “an Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectant.”
If all of this sounds a bit draconian, well, the point is to show that the league is taking no chances with anyone’s well-being.
As for the more interesting and light-hearted safety details … Well, first off, all staffers will be provided with a “proximity alarm” to wear, which will give an alert every time you’re spending more than five seconds within six feet of someone else wearing one. Players will have the option to wear the alarms. Players will also have the option to wear “smart rings,” which track a person’s temperature, respiration, and heart rate, and which are thought to help with early coronavirus detection.
Meanwhile, everyone in the bubble will be grouped into one of four “tiers.” Players and coaches are in “Tier 1.” Team owners: Tier 4. People in Tier 4 are not allowed to have “close contact” with people in Tier 1.
Now then, on to the really fun stuff. According to the Los Angeles Times, pretty much everyone asked the league if they’d have access to the golf courses on the campus. And the answer is yes, though caddies and carts and shared equipment are forbidden.
Golf not your thing? The NBA intends to bring in daily entertainment options, such as movie nights, DJ sets, and comedy shows — all outdoors, all with social-distancing rules enforced. Also, each team will be provided with a “players only lounge,” which will be stocked with NBA2K, arcade games, televisions, and pingpong tables (doubles games are prohibited, though, because they make it impossible to socially distance).
There will also be card tables set up. While the league acknowledged that it’s pretty much impossible to socially distance during card games, there are still some rules in place intended to minimize risk: No more than six players at a time; space as far apart as is reasonable; wear face masks unless outdoors; and limit decks of cards to one-time usage (“Sufficient packs of cards will be available”).
And in order to give players some semblance of the comforts of home, the league is brining manicurists and pedicurists, barbers and hair-braiders into the bubble.
Perhaps the single-most talked-about detail of the guidebook, though, is the aforementioned hotline. While teams are required to report protocol violations, players are encouraged to do so. To this end, the league will set up a number where players can anonymously report violations. Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson wryly joked that this system seems rife for potential abuse, tweeting, “hotline going up, if you get in a bad spot in the playoffs.”