THEY WON'T BE RIDING SPACE MOUNTAIN

A fascinating peek at the Rockets' crazy life inside the NBA bubble

Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Earlier this week, the NBA released a 113-page volume of safety and health rules that will be in place when the league resumes play at Disney World next month.

The NBA's "new normal" rivals the warranty for a toaster I bought recently for legal mumbo jumbo. Seriously, 113 pages so you can play basketball in Orlando for a few months? The official United States Citizenship Test Study Guide is only 83 pages. And you can stay in Orlando forever if you pass.

The 22 NBA teams invited to finish the season will hole up in three hotels: upper tier teams get the Gran Destino Tower, teams that have already clinched a playoff spot are assigned the Grand Floridian, and teams barely squeaking their way into Disney must slum it (relatively speaking) at the Yacht Club. The Rockets lucked out, they'll be staying at the Grand Floridian. I've stayed at the Grand Floridian, it's a swanky toast to gentler Victorian times and southern charm. And its bread pudding with vanilla sauce is to die for.

The league will provide every sort of entertainment and diversion imaginable for 20 and 30-somethings. There will be movie night, ping-pong tables and a game room. In other words, summer camp in Texas Hill Country for rich kids.

Except summer camp didn't require life in quarantine for up to three months, and getting a javelin-sized Q-tip shoved up your nose every couple of days. Bubble Boy on Seinfeld had more freedom of movement than NBA players will be allowed at Disney. They won't even be permitted to sneak out for an ice cream sandwich shaped like Mickey Mouse. You're supposed to bite the ears first. The ears melt and drip first.

Players will have to change into their uniforms at their hotel and return to their hotel after the game to take a shower. Every player will get his own room, and the rules didn't mention this, but I'm guessing Disney blocks those, you know, special channels on hotel TVs.

There are rules for everything else, leaving nothing to chance to protect the players' health. They can play ping-pong, but no doubles. Social distancing, you know. Players will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs but not recreational drugs. The NBA rulebook for Disney reminds players that weed is illegal in Florida and a definite no-no on Disney property.

If players want to opt out of traveling to Orlando for any reason, including safety concerns or social issues, it's OK with the league and they won't be punished. However, they won't be paid for any games they miss. Example: if a player makes $10 million for the 2019-20 season, the player will lose about $108,000 per game. Four Rockets are in that lofty tax bracket: Russell Westbrook ($38.5 million), James Harden ($38.1 million), Eric Gordon ($12.4 million) and … ?

It's Robert Covington ($11.3). Bigger surprise, what's Westbrook doing making more money than Harden?

A team can designate a "protected player," who it feels may be at extra risk for contracting coronavirus. A protected player will not have to travel to Orlando, and will receive his full salary. Here's where the penny under the tongue trick comes into play. It's a classic for kids who want to, or need to, miss school for a day. A penny really does raise your temperature a few degrees when your mom sticks a thermometer in your mouth. Sadly, a penny will not help you if your thoroughly modern mom has one of those thermometers she waves across your forehead. Or a rectal thermometer.

If a player had a season-ending injury, he'll receive his full salary, those lucky limping devils.

Players will report to Disney on July 21 for lockdown. They will barely be allowed to leave their hotels, and forget about leaving the Disney campus. I can already see some mischievous players tying sheets together to escape out their rooms like a prison break, or a girl who's got a suitcase packed to elope. If you're caught sneaking out, you'll be put in time out: 10 days of total quarantine with regular "deep nasal" coronavirus testing. Law-abiding players will only undergo "shallow nasal" testing. Given a choice … just stay in your room.

Each team will have its own private dining room. Players will be allowed to order room service without being charged $5,000 for a $15 hamburger. After a few weeks, players can order delivery from certain Orlando-area restaurants. Players will wear special wristbands that serve as room keys and keep track of each time they're tested for the virus. Player lounges will have card tables. New decks will be provided every few games for health reasons, not to prevent P.J. Tucker from card counting.

Players and team personnel, plus mental health experts, media and executives, will have to wear face masks when they're not in their rooms or when they're eating. Players and coaches will not have to wear face masks if they sit in the front row on the bench during games. Sucks to be you, John Lucas and the other second-row assistant coaches. Mask up.

Much has been made of games being played without fans. However, the stands will not be empty. Players will be allowed to attend games of other teams. Also a limited number team and league executives and sponsors will be in the stands. Or pretty much the same crowd as a Timberwolves game. I joke, not because I love, but because I don't live in Minnesota.

Generally speaking, facilities at Disney will be 5-star and first-rate, with every creature comfort imaginable, including 24-hour concierge and on-site manicurists and hair-braiders. In other words, almost as luxurious as that sweet federal prison where actress Lori Loughlin will be sent for bribing her "athletically gifted" daughters into college.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome