The Milwaukee Bucks made history when they elected to boycott Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Orlando Magic and effectively brought the NBA to a temporary halt.
If George Hill and the Bucks hadn’t taken a stand, there was a “strong possibility” a league-wide strike still would have occurred, according to GQ’s Taylor Rooks.
Rooks reported that members of the Celtics met with Toronto Raptors Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry to weigh their options. Celtics coach Brad Stevens reportedly ran into Raptors president Masai Ujiri and discussed not playing the following day as well.
“It was going to happen, to be honest,” Ujiri told Rooks. Rooks wrote that if it hadn’t been the Bucks who initiated the strike, it “probably would have been the Raptors and Celtics.”
In the meeting that ensued with players, that Austin Rivers described as “like chaos,” several players voiced their opinion. Most of the room was upset that the Bucks opted not to play without consulting with other teams first. Jaylen Brown, however, stood up and said that the Bucks didn’t owe anyone an apology, according to Rooks, because they did what they thought was right.
“It was very special,” Hill told Rooks of Brown’s remarks. “As a young man himself, to stand up and say that? It meant a lot.”
Jayson Tatum comforted Rooks when her great-uncle, Lou Brock, died.
Rooks said that the “realness” of being isolated hit her when she learned that her great-uncle, Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinals standout Lou Brock, died back in Missouri.
The day after he died, Rooks said, Jayson Tatum – St. Louis’s own, and someone she’s known since he was 15 – wore Cardinals-colorway Jordan 34 shoes and wrote “R.I.P. Lou Brock” on the side.
“After the game, he found me to make sure I was okay,” Rooks wrote, “and it was one of the few times inside the bubble I remember feeling at home.”
My first piece for GQ –
inside the emotional highs and lows of the NBA bubble. https://t.co/BQE5zmnIX3
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) November 24, 2020
Rooks also detailed Tatum’s personal experience inside the bubble, noting that she never saw him without teammates Kemba Walker and Javonte Green. She said it was natural for players to form cliques, but these three were truly inseparable.
Tatum told Rooks that his favorite night in the bubble – when he was rotating between drinking Hennessy and pineapple, a Crown Royal Apple, and a Moscato – came about because of a comment Walker made to him. Walker told him he had to get something off his chest, and the revelation brought them even closer, Rooks reported.
“Kemba was like, ‘Yo, before I met you, I thought you were just…like, the epitome of a light-skinned dude with good hair who went to Duke,” Tatum told Rooks. “But being around you, you’re just a country dude from St. Louis!’”
Can’t do nothing but thank God🙏🏽
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) November 23, 2020
Tatum also said it was a strange adjustment both entering and leaving the bubble.
“You really just had to accept the fact that, man, I’m going to see these four walls every day,” Tatum told Rooks.
Transitioning back to life afterward wasn’t quite as easy as one might expect, though. When he first got home, according to Rooks, Tatum thought, “Damn, what am I supposed to do now?”
“I got no plans. I’ve got nowhere to go,” he told Rooks. “I’m not waking up to get tested every morning and check my heart monitor and take my temperature. The first couple days were weird.
“I was like, ‘Damn, do I miss the bubble?’”
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