With so many unknowns on what play will look like once the NBA resumes following a four-month layoff, there are just as many questions as to what life in the Orlando bubble will look like for the 22 NBA teams heading down to Florida this week.
As the Trail Blazers embark on their trip Thursday, power forward Carmelo Anthony described his expectations of living in the bubble and he is ready to use his platform to continue conversations surrounding social justice.
Being a 17-year NBA vet also means Melo is ready to help the young fellas mentally through such a unique situation.
“I'm trying to make the best out of this situation and I don't know how, but I'm going to make the best out of this situation -- if that's me gathering the guys under protocol and talking and keeping the conversations going, I'm going to do that,” Melo said. “We've never experienced anything like this before. The way I perceive this and the way that a younger player in this league will perceive it will be totally different. They may not know what to expect. They may not know how to handle this. This is going to be a stressful situation for everybody.”
In such a unique and challenging situation to deal with life in the bubble while also battling to make the playoffs, Anthony’s experience and leadership will be on full display in Orlando.
And there’s no doubt he’s up for the challenge.
One way that Melo perceives the Orlando bubble is he believes it could look like the Olympic Village.
Everybody's gonna be tested mentally. Everybody will be tested emotionally. It's going to be a lot of things that's going on still while we're down there in the world that we're going to be paying attention to. So everybody is gonna have their own thing that they’re doing and messaging that they have. But, it will be almost a Olympic Village style -- all the athletes is just in one place. -- Carmelo Anthony
Obviously, the 3-time USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year who won a bronze for Team USA at Athens in 2004 while following that up with three consecutive gold medals, knows life in the Olympic Village pretty well.
The challenges of COVID-19 protocols will make the bubble not as glamorous and fun as the Olympic Village, of course, and Melo made sure to explain just that, saying, “you're not going to have that much interaction with guys so that's the challenge.”
But what about playing in a game with no fans?
That's another big challenge.
"We as athletes, we rely on the fans to get momentum, and that's how you make runs, and that's how you get back in the game with your fans," Melo said. "Guys is not going to have that, so you're going to be tested to see how motivated you are as an individual. How much self motivation you have to go out there and get yourself going and motivated to go play in front of no one. So you have that aspect."
The Trail Blazers veteran also explained what else he expects the bubble life to bring.
"You just have the emotional aspect with going down there," Anthony said."Guys may not want to go down there, but we're going down and I'm sure guys gonna be thinking about that as well. No family, no this, no that. So it's so many things that's coming into play that guy’s is going to have to deal with. But I think this is going to make everything stronger, because if we don't get this right, then this puts a dent in sports in America and all over the world, because everybody is looking at the NBA to see how this is going to play out.”
For Melo, though, he had questioned returning to play with the Blazers this summer in the Orlando bubble.
Despite his concerns, it’s because of his love for the game that he was ready to resume play.
“Basketball at the end of the day, wanting to play, wanting to get back on the court -- that's my personal motivation. So that is kind of what I've been, not forcing myself, but challenging myself to think that way, as opposed to thinking about all the negatives and the questions about going to a situation like that.”
The future hall of famer also mentioned that it wasn’t as if he was against playing, but he added, “just like everybody else, I’ve had my concerns… Early I had questions before I was getting information, I had a lot of questions.”
As a human there’s still tons of concerns… The unknown of how this is going to play out. The pressures of this working… Everybody has concerns about what’s going to happen. How everything is going to transpire because we just don’t know what’s going to happen. -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony.
The risk, the reward, the use of players’ platforms, and everything in between will be part of life in the bubble.
That life gets underway for Melo and the Blazers starting Thursday.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].