The NBA bubble is about to get bigger.
The NBA playoffs are just around the corner, and the league is planning to allow guests inside of the bubble for the first time. However, the NBA’s bubble has been practically perfect in terms of containing the coronavirus, and they aren’t going to let anyone in without rigorous rules and protocols.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, players can only bring in guests with whom they have a long-standing relationship. That means no casual pals, friends-of-friends or social media connections. The athletes also cannot invite professional associates like agents or trainers to be guests in the bubble.
The regulations will begin before invited guests ever enter the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Anyone planning to enter the bubble is required to quarantine off-site for 3-7 days, and then they must take a charter flight to Orlando, where they will quarantine for an additional four days. Per the league’s memo, the earliest that any guests will be able to complete the process and enter the bubble is Aug. 31.
The days of empty stands are finally over, and even though there won’t be the usual crowds, it will definitely be nice for the players to see friends and family sitting court-side. The NBA and National Basketball Players Association agreed that having loved ones nearby is essential to athletes’ mental health. Even though some of the rules seem silly — 32 inches is an odd cut-off for children’s tickets — it’s clear the NBA is doing everything it can to make things work for the players’ needs and their safety.
Partners and children have been allowed in the WNBA bubble since the season restarted, so there’s already proof that it’s possible to maintain a bubble with non-players included. If the NBA can pull this off, it’ll be setting a great example for other professional sports considering the bubble model going forward.