In Florida, the NBA season continues after a month-long corona break – without fans and home advantage, but with some changes. Individual players in particular have worked hard on their shape.
Almost five months have passed since basketball was last played in the NBA. The night continues with the 2019/2020 season, but under special circumstances: 22 of 30 teams were quartered in Disney World near Orlando, Florida to play out the champions. There are initially eight games to determine the final playoff places. Those who were at the top in the regular season have a home advantage in the knockout phase – at least that would normally be the case.
In the Orlando NBA bubble, this home advantage looks like this: Your own logo is on the court, you play in your home jersey and everything is in the club colors. Fans are not allowed. Basically, the rest of the season takes place on neutral ground.
For some teams, the sterile environment without spectators will be a weakening. The Houston Rockets 1995 are the only champions to date that have had no home advantage in any playoff round. A decisive, seventh game came in the NBA playoffs, and the host won 103 times. The home advantage disappears without fans, surprises are more likely.
The atmosphere in the Orlando NBA bubble is currently reminiscent of a student dormitory, as the numerous photo and video snippets of professionals on social networks show. There were even competitions in beer can piercing. Each player has a hotel room as their own little empire, but the entire team lives along a long corridor. At meals, during corona tests, while fishing, by the swimming pool – players run into each other everywhere, including from opposing teams.
The environment isn’t the only novelty when it comes to restarting the NBA. After months of play that usually only exist between the seasons in summer, there are some players every year who are hardly recognizable. The “offseason” is the time for development and change in the NBA, whose 82-game calendar hardly allows any further stress beyond the game. So many professionals use the summer to work on themselves.
Some work on specific facets, such as distance throwing, mostly young players gain muscle mass, older ones lose weight in order to protect their knees and ankles in the long term, while others use the free time to change their diet or sleep pattern. It can of course also run the other way around – and a player gets out of shape in summer.
The best example is the Nikola Jokic Center, which is not exactly known as a top athlete. At the beginning of the season, the Denver Nuggets all-star was overweight and performed poorly, only after a few months did Jokic return to the usual level. He apparently spent the corona break on the treadmill.
Jokic is not the only one who is causing a sensation with his new stature. Marc Gasol from the Toronto Raptors and Carmelo Anthony from the Portland Trailblazers are just two more examples. These three players have one thing in common: They are among the top earners of their respective teams.
While stars often have weight rooms or even entire basketball courts on their property, newcomers to the league who earn well but are not multimillionaires had to look for other solutions. For months the pandemic closed the team facilities and public gyms. According to their Instagram posts, some players didn’t even have a basket on their driveway to train alone. The differences won’t be too big, but some players definitely had an easier time staying in shape.
The professionals who had the hardest were those with Covid-19 infection – and they are not a few. Almost every team had at least one corona case, in some cases important key players were affected, as was Jokic, who had become infected in Serbia. Jokic had already lost a lot of weight before the infection. Some of the sick players have canceled for Disney World, some are still recovering from the infection, others are already in full swing.