How did I fill my time on my day off?

 After 2 weeks in the NBA bubble I have had the opportunity to provide front line orthopedic care and also spectate some of the highest-level basketball games in my recent memory. From Dame’s “Logo Lillard” heroics to Devin Booker’s undefeated bubble run – I have been a witness to it all. Fortunately, a relative paucity of major orthopedic injuries has allowed the level of play to remain so high.

Since arriving on campus, my main priority has been attending to player health and ensuring that teams and training staff are well managed for any orthopedic or musculoskeletal problem. However, because Portland was able to clinch a playoff berth in one game – I now find myself with a rare day off in the NBA bubble. So, I set about figuring out what to do in the NBA bubble to amuse myself.

At first, I was able to stumble on a lounge with access to ping pong balls and paddles (provided courtesy of the NBA and the NBA player’s association). Unfortunately, ping pong was never a strength of mine, so I decided to take a pass on this.

I discovered a number of other amenities including a pool, a bowling alley and multiple lounge areas. It is also worth noting that among the amenities available to me on my day off was the infamous “barbershop” where players and staff receive haircuts. Unfortunately, due to my premature balding I could only look on with envy as the patrons of the Barbershop enjoyed some of the “freshest cuts” in Orlando.

NBA - Ping Pong
NBA - Barber Shop

Luckily, a few of the other Bubble orthopedic surgeons are avid golfers and they offered to take me out with them for 9 holes on the Disney World Golf Course. Admittedly golf is not a strong point for me but it was a great opportunity to bond with my orthopedic colleagues and partake in outdoors activity. As with all bubble related activity, the operational execution associated with transporting me from the hotel to the golf course had military precision. I was able to play 9 holes with two fellow orthopedic surgeons in a designated portion of the course with no interaction with the outside world. The experience was surreal, and my golf skills were certainly not worthy of such accommodation.

By the 9th hole, my Mickey mouse polo was drenched in sweat and my ego had taken a bruising from realizing just how bad at golf I truly am. Despite these things, I was completely energized. As I rode back to the hotel with my orthopedic colleagues – I was suddenly infused with a new lease on life that I would ride into the first round of playoffs. I couldn’t help but appreciate how accommodating the NBA was to provide such a full cadre of recreational activities. My mother had always told me: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This holds true even in the NBA bubble.

The 2020 NBA Bubble is the isolation zone created by the National Basketball Association (NBA) to protect its players from the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2019–20 season. Twenty-two teams are participating in regular season and playoff games being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida.  Dr. Nwachukwu is a Team Physician for the event.


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