Minus a few stars, life inside the NBA bubble is officially underway.
While coach Mike D’Antoni got medical clearance to join the NBA bubble, Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook did not join their team en route to Disney World on Thursday.
The pair will arrive at the bubble “in the near future,” Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported. Why they didn’t travel with the team is unclear.
Head coaches cleared
All 22 teams have arrived or are en route to Disney World as of Thursday night to prepare for the bubble league scheduled to tip-off on July 31, according to Haynes. There was initial concern from the National Basketball Coaches Association that some of the league’s older coaches would not pass medical guidelines to be allowed inside the bubble because of age-related COVID-19 concerns.
But D’Antoni, 69, received clearance and joined the Rockets on their flight on Thursday, according to ESPN. New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, 65, also received clearance, according to ESPN. As did 71-year-old San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who was cleared to join his team en route to Florida Thursday, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
As for player arrivals, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes on Wednesday that Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard — like Harden and Westbrook — did not accompany his team to the bubble. He’ll join them at a later date after attending to a family matter.
Other stars were spotted on their way on Thursday.
The Toronto Raptors arrived in buses emblazoned in with “Black Lives Matter.”
Joel Embiid sported a hazmat suit for his travels.
Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic is expected to join his Denver Nuggets teammates from Serbia in the next couple of days, Haynes reported on Thursday. Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 in June but has been medically cleared for the bubble. He’ll be one of the stories to watch at Disney World after slimming down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Life inside the bubble
A lot of players are already checked in. Clippers guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams are showing off their Disney World digs.
And Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber showed off how he and his teammates are blowing off steam.
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