The Dallas Mavericks play their first game in four months Friday night after the pandemic halted the NBA season in March. The action will take place in a secure facility in Orlando known as the NBA bubble.
Dwight Powell won’t be in the lineup the rest of the season after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in January. But he has been living and preparing alongside his Mavs teammates, and he checked in from Orlando to talk about life in the bubble.
Dwight Powell on…
… what players need to live in the NBA bubble for as long as four months.
“Obviously, first and foremost, everything was guided by safety protocols. But also there’s the competition aspect – we wanted to make sure it’s as fair and as similar to normal circumstances as possible to ensure that whoever was crowned champion at the end of this, it was justified and valid and we would all agree that it was rightfully earned. So that was important. Also, player mental health – there’s a lot of social aspects and non-basketball components that go into supporting the mental health of players and the staff and coaches that are in the bubble."
… the role of the NBA and its players in speaking out on social justice issues in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
“I think the league itself has done a good job over a very long period of time of allowing players to speak their mind and support the causes they feel strongly about and not standing in the way of that. But specifically to the players of our league, a lot of guys feel very strongly about this issue in particular. As a league with so many players that have grown up in this country as minorities, and have experienced injustices or witnessed injustices or have family members or close friends – everyone has some sort of connection. So it’s we feel our responsibility to speak on these issues."
… on returning to play after four months off.
“Physically, guys are at the stage now where guys are ready to go full bore. … Mentally, they’re more so ready to compete than they were when the season ended. I think we got a taste of what it’s like to lose the thing we love and to have it back and to be able to compete and carry on with the season and fight for a championship. Guys are just that much more hungry and ready to battle out there."
… on being surrounded by ultra-competitive teammates 24/7.
“In the bubble, everything’s a competition. … Ping-pong, cards, whatever it is – half-court shots after practice. We’re definitely starting to see our competitive sides come all the way out, so it’s time we start the games and start competing against someone in a different jersey."