The NBA's Orlando bubble turned out to be a massive success as the league was able to finish its season despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But as successful as it was, there's no doubt it took a mental toll on players living in isolation.
In August, Jaylen Brown spoke at length about what players were going through mentally in the bubble. The Boston Celtics forward brought attention to the issues of mental health and anxiety, and how the extended stay in Orlando surrounded by NBA peers was a significant challenge for a number of players.
Brown's C's teammate, Marcus Smart, opened up about the NBA bubble in a recent piece for The Players' Tribune. Smart had gone to Florida expecting to be miserable away from his friends and family, but actually found the bubble to be "a blessing."
Here's an excerpt from The Players' Tribune:
"I wasn’t expecting it, but after only four or five days down in Orlando, I realized that the bubble was a blessing, because it gave me the opportunity for some genuine downtime. Lots of stuff I had to worry about before — family drama, promotional stuff, places I had to be at such and such time — that was all out the window. I could actually just sit there alone and….
And it may sound corny or whatever, but over those few months I was really able to step back and take some time to learn more about myself — what I truly care about, what matters most to me.
Family, great friends, basketball, that stuff was on my mind, of course. But I also thought a lot about this moment we’re all living through right now. About my experience with COVID-19, the pandemic as a whole, and the ongoing movement for racial justice in this country — about how all those things overlapped."
It's no surprise these issues weighed heavily on Smart, as they did on the rest of the country.
Prior to his stay in the Orlando bubble, Smart participated in a peaceful protest in Boston for racial justice. The 26-year-old also donated plasma and made an appearance on CNN to urge people to take the coronavirus seriously.
Smart continues the thoughtful piece by going into depth about his personal experiences with COVID-19 and racial profiling. They are eye-opening, to say the least.
For the full Players' Tribune article, go here.