Celtics

Brad Stevens, Celtics players share what life is like inside the NBA’s bubble

"We want to focus on what we can control and divert most of our energy to why we’re here.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens instructs his team as forward Jayson Tatum waits to inbound the ball. Elise Amendola/AP

For most people, a trip to Walt Disney World typically means it’s time for vacation.

That’s not the case for the Celtics. They arrived at Walt Disney World on Wednesday to play out the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

And the Celtics are already off to work. They held their first practices in the bubble Friday and Saturday to get in tune for the final eight games of the regular season.

“We’ve had a quick turnaround here with practice last night once we got out of quarantine and back at it this morning,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters via Zoom. “We weren’t able to do as much as maybe we’d hoped, just because of the timing, so we’ll do a lot more next two days.”

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The Celtics’ new practice area may not be the Auerbach Center, but Stevens likes it.

“We’re in a convention center ballroom that they put two courts down,” Stevens said. “It was an excellent environment to practice in. They had a weight room in there, and they had all kinds of stuff. So it’s a huge area, a huge space, very convenient to get done what you need to get done.”

Jayson Tatum, who was coming off his first All-Star Game and the best stretch of his career before the season was stopped, shared how excited he is to be practicing with the team again.

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“Just being able to practice with all the guys and get after it, it’s been so long since we’ve got to be in a gym all together, so it’s been fun,” Tatum told reporters Saturday via Zoom. “We’re all enjoying it, getting back into the rhythm. We’re having a lot of fun.”

While the Celtics are working in Orlando, they’ll have to call Walt Disney World their home for possibly the next three months. With the league’s “bubble” guidelines, players and team staff members won’t be able to see anyone other than those in the bubble until their team’s season ends or if their team makes it past the first round of the playoffs, which could be as late as Aug. 30.

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For Tatum, that meant he had to say goodbye to his 2-year-old son, Deuce, for the foreseeable future when the team left Wednesday. He’s found ways to stay in touch with him though over the first few days in the bubble.

“It was tough. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Tatum said. “I’ve been able to FaceTime him a couple times a day. I guess I gotta get used to it.”

With no family members and the inability to go to the theme parks, players have had to find different ways to entertain themselves. Vincent Poirier shared a picture of the video game setup in his hotel room. Romeo Langford brought a Nintendo Switch with him to Orlando. Gordon Hayward’s wife, Robyn, shared that he was bringing his gaming stuff to Orlando, too.

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Video games aren’t the only ways Celtics players have entertained themselves in the bubble. Robert Williams shared on Instagram that he started watching “How to Get Away with Murder.” Daniel Theis built a Lego set of Iron Man on Friday and Tatum hit the golf course available to players and coaches on Saturday.

Jaylen Brown is looking for a different way to entertain himself while in the “bubble.” He deactivated his Instagram account not long after the team arrived in Orlando, saying he doesn’t want to use social media until he gets a “routine.”

“For me, I’m just trying to find a routine to just pass the time,” Brown told reporters Friday via Zoom. “I’m not trying to be on social media. I deactivated my Instagram account, not because I feel like it is a distraction. But until I get a routine, I want to not pick up bad habits and things like that. Just being a video game or etc.”

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Brown, who is one of the National Basketball Players Association’s vice presidents, said he wants to “educate” himself and talk to other people in the league.

“[I want to] spend time talking to my teammates or other people in the NBA trying to figure out how we can all come together and use our time to divert our attention to things outside of basketball,” Brown said. “… I’m trying to make myself available to any players that are around and might have questions or anything they want to build off of, and also my teammates as well.”

Arguably the biggest point of discussion about the NBA’s “bubble” since teams arrived is the food being served. When the first wave of teams arrived in Orlando Tuesday night, Nuggets guard Troy Daniels shared an image of the food he received with a facepalm emoji and Nets guard Chris Chiozza shared an image of the dinner he received with a caption saying “And the bubble begins” with a laughing emoji, seemingly mocking the league for the food provided to them.

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However, no one on the Celtics has complained about the food yet.

One of the first things Enes Kanter shared when the team arrived at their hotel Wednesday night was the dinner they received.

“Our first meal in the bubble in Orlando,” Kanter said in an Instagram video showing his food. “We got steak, greens, sweet potato, chips, fruit, some cheese, bread, salad, and some milk. I actually like it a lot. Not bad. Thank you.”

The next morning, Kanter shared another video on Instagram of his food, saying, “This is getting better and better.” Tatum, who has the nickname Taco Jay because of his love of tacos, shared that he’s been able to eat tacos while in the bubble.

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Former Celtics star Rajon Rondo, who is now with the Lakers, compared his hotel room to a Motel 6. But as it was with the food, no one on the Celtics has complained about their temporary living area.

“We don’t want to do too much complaining about other stuff,” Brown said. “We want to focus on what we can control and divert most of our energy to why we’re here.”

Kanter echoed Brown’s thoughts.

“The only thing we need to do is focus on basketball, not worry about anything else,” Kanter told reporters Saturday via Zoom. “There’s so many people out there living in way worse than what we’re living in right now, so I feel like we should just be grateful and thankful and go out there and play basketball.”

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Between Brad Stevens and all the Celtics’ players’ media availabilities on Friday and Saturday, they made it clear why they’re playing Orlando.

“We’ve got one goal: just go out there and get that 18th banner,” Kanter said.

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