After several months on the sidelines, the NBA is preparing to play out the rest of the 2019-20 season. When games resume, however, things will be a bit different. Rather than traveling around the country, the league’s players are isolated inside Walt Disney World’s NBA bubble. While that might sound like a dream come true, there are still some challenges; just ask Jared Dudley about that reality.
During a recent conversation, the veteran forward was asked about the biggest challenges facing the players inside of the bubble. He pinpointed a lack of female companions as one factor that could potentially damage team unity.
Jared Dudley is an NBA veteran unafraid of speaking his mind
When you think of NBA stars, Jared Dudley probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind. The forward has still spent plenty of time on the hardwood, however, and knows a thing or two about life in the association.
After a strong college career at Boston College, Dudley entered into the 2007 NBA draft. Although the Charlotte Bobcats selected him in the first round, the forward didn’t develop into a franchise player; he only spent a season and a half in North Carolina, averaging 19.5 minutes and 5.7 points per outing.
Dudley landed in Phoenix, where he played the best basketball of his career, before joining the Los Angeles Clippers via a trade in 2013. After that, he bounced around the league, spending time with the Bucks, Wizards, Suns, and Nets before signing his current contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Dudley is never going to blow anyone away with his stats, his 13 seasons in the NBA have given him a unique perspective on all things basketball. Whether he’s explaining how free agents feel about the New York Knicks or calling out Blake Griffin, the veteran forward isn’t shy about sharing his opinion.
Jared Dudley thinks a lack of female companionship could hurt team harmony inside the NBA bubble
For all of Jared Dudley’s NBA experience, though, the forward has never quite seen a season like 2020. Life in the league’s Orlando bubble is completely new for everyone.
According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, Dudley seemed pretty positive about his experience in Orlando. The veteran forward, however, was asked “what he thought was going to be the biggest obstacle to harmony in the bubble, culture-wise.” Rather than bad food or uncomfortable masks, he focused on a more human issue.
“I think not being around a female companion,” Dudley explained. “Your people who are married, you have your wives. I won’t see my wife for seven weeks. When’s the last time it’s ever happened? We’re not going to Iraq for war, or doing anything. But for us, it’s you not seeing your wife and kids. I think that’s a huge shock. Even AAU basketball—you go for your week, and you go home, right?”
While the forward did note that family members could eventually enter the bubble, he wasn’t sure if that would make a major impact.
“Even after the first round, you can have people come in,” he continued. “(But) they have to quarantine for a week. What wife, girlfriend, or companion wants to be in a hotel room by themselves for a week?”
The NBA bubble will put everyone’s people skills to the test
As Jared Dudley, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and others have explained, there are worse fates than being quarantined in Walt Disney World to play some basketball. At the same time, though, it’s important to remember that professional athletes are human beings, too.
Dudley went on to say that life in the bubble will put the teams’ chemistry to the test; when everyone is stuck together, personal dynamics will matter more than ever.
“Off the court, we’re here, potentially, three months together,” Dudey noted. “And how you hang out and how you talk is (important). Now it’s quiet in the arena. You’re going to see how people talk to each other, how they deal with adversity. And if you’re cool with someone—you can play cards, have some wine, play some video games with them—you should be able to talk to them on the floor a certain type of way with them, and them not be able to get mad, because they know you’re cool with them.”
When the NBA season resumes in the bubble, it will be a completely new experience for fans and players alike. Jared Dudley, however, sounds pretty prepared for whatever challenges will come his way.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference