There is something refreshing about players having conversations with former players. There is a realness that you don’t always see during a standard media interview.
In a recent episode of the 'All That Smoke' Podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox was asked about the NBA’s bubble experience. While he gave props to the league for doing their best to create an atmosphere that allowed the season to continue, that doesn’t mean that he would be on board to do it all over.
“That experience was terrible,” Fox said. “I never want to have to do anything like that again.”
Fox said that it was a situation that he can tell his kids and grandkids about, but there is something about being isolated away from friends and family that Fox clearly would like to forget.
The current situation in the league is very different and every state has its own rules and regulations. In Denver, Fox said the team wasn’t allowed to eat indoors or on the plane. Other cities like Houston were much more lax with restrictions.
“Hell, we were just in Houston, so, Texas, it’s like corona doesn’t exist,” Fox said.
When the Kings faced the Rockets on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2, there were 4,500 fans allowed in the building for each game, which is a stark contrast to playing in front of thousands of cardboard cutouts at Golden 1 Center.
This is the new NBA, at least for the next season or two. The Kings aren’t hearing a cascade of boos when the team goes off the rails, but they also don’t have the full force of 17,000 passionate fans at their back to help carry them to victory.
“It’s different man, you’ve got to be able to play,” Fox said. “There ain’t no fans, there’s no energy, you’ve got to create your own energy. It’s basically like AAU [when] you used to play in that back gym at 8 o’clock in the morning. You’ve got to come ready to play. No one can help you.”
This is one of the bigger adjustments for players this season, especially for someone like Fox, who plays in front of a nearly-packed house of engaged fans each and every game night in Sacramento.
While Fox and many others would love to avoid another bubble experience, the league already has had to postpone plenty of games due to outbreaks with teams or contact tracing. There are teams that are currently struggling to field the required eight players to start a game.
The Kings had four players come back positive for the coronavirus during the build up to the bubble and another three leading up to training camp, but so far this season they have avoided the issues.
It’s an adjustment for everyone involved, but at least there is basketball. Some nights there will be fans. Some nights the team will have to quarantine and pray for negative test results. Welcome to 2021, which so far has been a continuation of a disastrous 2020.