It’s only been a few days, but so far so good for Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.
The Raptors were the first team to travel to Florida in anticipation of the NBA’s return-to-play schedule. Nurse and the rest of his squad have been isolated within a private facility in Fort Myers since June 22, where they will remain until the NBA starts moving teams into ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex on July 9. For now, Nurse says it’s not so bad being in the bubble.
“It’s a different feel. The rules and stuff about how many players and coaches are on the floor and at each basket, it feels like we’re going to basketball camp a little bit. We go in at 8:30 and stay there all day because we’ve got limits on how many players and coaches there can be,” Nurse explained.
“There’s just one player at a basket. We work the gym for a good hour or hour and twenty minutes and then the cleaning comes in. There’s a little break time there and then four more guys come in and we do it again. That’s kind of what we do all day. It has a bit of a basketball camp feel. We’re in the dead of summer, too, so that makes it feel like basketball camp.”
For the coaches, life remains busy as they work full shifts to get players back in shape ahead of the playoffs. But each individual player is limited in how much they can practice — so the organization has been deliberate in planning activities to avoid burnout.
“We’re trying to mix in some days off. We’re trying to mix in a lot of different activities we can do under the conditions. We had a barbeque the other night, it was kind of nice. It takes an evening. It was good. There’s ping pong, there’s pool, there’s a few other things we’re trying to mix in too,” Nurse said.
Fred VanVleet, who spent much of the past few months attending to his toddlers, says he’s using the extra time to catch up on sleep and to indulge in video games. Norman Powell and Marc Gasol are scheduling appointments to play tennis. There’s access to a golf course, which means Kyle Lowry is probably keeping busy.
“The organization has done a great job in making sure that we are comfortable, and our needs are being met. We're able to go out on the golf course and tennis and this that and the other down here. I mean, it's not the same as I was used to back home in Vegas having my own place I'm being able to move around, but it's up to standards and it has giving us a little taste of what is going to be like in the bubble,” Powell said.
Nurse says spirits are high, even though the world outside remains tumultuous. Florida set yet another frightening daily high with over 10,000 new cases of COVID-19, and it will be at least seven weeks until the players can bring friends or family members inside the bubble. Nurse said his mood might change a month from now, but for now things are still positive.
“I’ve said how much I’ve missed coaching these guys and I just sense these guys like to be around each other, they like to play. The attitude is really good,” Nurse said.
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