Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard spoke about the difficulties of being on the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus, where the end of the regular season and entire postseason is being held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s really nothing to do,” Howard told reporters Wednesday. “If I can be honest with you, there’s nowhere to go, there’s no way to release anything. Any feeling that you might have, it’s just like we’re stuck.”
He said he’s trying to find joy in the fact that his son is now with him in the bubble, but noted: “It is extremely difficult, being in a location I can’t get out, can’t see family, friends. You just in the hotel. So that is very difficult, seeing the same walls every day. But at the end of the day … can’t allow it to really affect us too much, but it is extremely difficult.”Howard isn’t the only player to express sentiments about the difficulties of bubble life.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George also said, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, that he was in a “dark place” mentally late last month.
Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray spoke with Sam Amick of The Athletic and referenced George’s comments in relaying his own experience:
“Paul George had said something about depression, about stress in the bubble, and it’s real. … [The mental health struggle] is a real thing, and I could see it. There’s time when you’re like, ‘Man, I feel like I’m in jail sometimes.’ But you go back, play basketball, have a good [practice], talk to your guys—and they’re like brothers to me—so it all helps and it all works out.”
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown has discussed mental health in the bubble as well:
Ian Steele @IanSteeleABC6
Jaylen Brown on mental health for NBA players in the bubble:
“The images of pool tables and swimming pools and all this other stuff… it’s tough being here. Being away from my family. Being isolated from the rest of our society.” @ABC6 #celtics @FCHWPO https://t.co/ZRbjhqXUHG
The separation from families and loved ones has undoubtedly been difficult on the players, who all arrived on the NBA’s Disney World campus by mid-July. A limited amount of family was allowed onto the campus starting with the second round of the NBA playoffs in late August.
However, that did not include families of coaches and team staff members. That policy changed, though, when those family members were allowed to enter the campus before the conference finals, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.
Only four teams remain in Disney World with the conference finals underway. The Miami Heat took Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series versus the Boston Celtics. The Lakers and Nuggets will begin their Western Conference Finals series Friday.
The winners will face off in the NBA Finals beginning Sept. 30.