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NBA and WNBA players face realities of restarting seasons in Florida ‘bubbles’

The coronavirus-resistant bubbles being used to restart the NBA and WNBA seasons in Florida are already coming under fire, as the top men’s basketball players are complaining about ‘airline’ food service at Disney World while their female counterparts are facing bed bugs, worms, and mice on the other side of the state.

‘No way Bron eating this LOL,’ Isaiah Thomas, LeBron James’s former teammate, wrote on Twitter.

Thomas, a free agent who most recently played for the Washington Wizards, was responding to an underwhelming picture of Denver Nuggets guard Troy Daniels’s dinner on Tuesday evening.

Daniels posted two photos on social media, which included one shot of a red, plastic bag of food placed outside his hotel room on a brown cafeteria tray. A card emblazoned with the NBA logo described a respectable meal that included pasta with meatless Bolognese sauce and roasted summer vegetables.

However the contents of the bag were less appetizing, and had a slight resemblance to airline food, as many social media commenters pointed out. Others likened the meal to the cheese sandwiches given to customers at Fyre Fest, the 2017 music festival that famously failed to deliver any of the luxurious amenities promised to concertgoers.

The NBA season is set to restart July 30 with a 22-team tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Campus at Disney World in Orlando, with scrimmages slated to begin July 22. Player movement is heavily restricted at Disney, where players will be required to maintain social distancing and undergo regular testing while remaining cut off from the rest of society.

There is a 24-hour concierge service and teams have Disney chefs and cooks to available to create menus for teams, but all of that may not be operational just yet.

Meanwhile the WNBA players are facing worms, mouse traps and bed bugs over at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Players are cuttingly staying at the academy’s lodge, which has disappointed to say the least.

Players circulated images upon arriving at their temporary living conditions on Monday. More information emerged Tuesday, and NBA players such as Damian Lillard and Nassir Little spoke out against the unsanitary scenes depicted in the pictures.

One photo showed a worm on the floor of a hotel room. Another showed a mouse trap in the laundry room. Deadspin reported Tuesday that two teams needed to change rooms because of an infestation of bed bugs, quoting a source saying the league is ‘working to fix some issues.’

‘Smfh I hope this is fake,’ Lillard wrote on Twitter.

Little added: ‘Bruh there is no way. That ain’t okay.’

Bleacher Report reported Tuesday that a survey was sent to people in lodge housing, and that IMG Academy executives were working to address the problems.

The WNBA is planning to play a 22-game season before a traditional playoff, all held at the IMG Academy ‘bubble.’

The NBA and WNBA seasons are up against a surge of coronavirus cases in the state of Florida, which faces an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds.

Florida has endured 214,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 3,840 deaths, according to The New York Times.

More than four dozen hospitals across 25 of 67 Florida counties reported their intensive care units had reached full capacity, according to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. Only 17 percent of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds statewide were available on Tuesday, down from 20 percent three days earlier.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday voiced concern that a ‘significant spread’ of the coronavirus could potentially expose a ‘hole in our bubble’ and shut down the season a second time.

Silver made the comments during Fortune’s virtual ‘Brainstorm Health’ conference.

Silver expects that players will test positive for the coronavirus but said he’s ‘not sure yet’ what the league’s threshold will be for having to shut down the season at Disney World.

‘Certainly, if we had any sort of a significant spread at all within our campus, we would be shut down again,’ Silver said. ‘It would be concerning if once [the players] sit through our quarantine period, and then were to test positive, we would know that, in essence, there’s a hole in our bubble.

‘That our campus is not working in some way.’

‘We can analyze the virus itself and try to track whether, if there’s more than one case, if it’s in essence the same virus, the same genetic variation of the virus that has passed from one player to another,’ Silver said.

Silver said he’s confident enough in the league’s protocols that he plans to attend after being tested himself, but added he will ‘stay far away from players.’

‘This should work,’ he said. ‘But again, this virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols and we hope it works as we designed it.’

Meanwhile a fourth Brooklyn Nets player, forward Taurean Prince, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will sit out the NBA’s restart later this month near Orlando, ESPN reported Tuesday.

The Nets were already without center DeAndre Jordan, guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Wilson Chandler, who opted out after positive tests. Forward Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) and guard Kyrie Irving (shoulder) were never expected to play as they continue to recovery from surgeries.

According to ESPN, the Nets left for Florida on Tuesday evening.


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