Matisse Thybulle, Ben Simmons and Sixers provide insight into life in NBA 'bubble'

Noah Levick
·4 min read

Hearing the Sixers describe their early days inside the NBA's "bubble" at Disney World, it sounds something like living inside a reality television show.

The team is isolated from the outside world and preparing to perform for the general public's entertainment. In their downtime, many players have felt as if they're at summer camp, not an environment created in response to a pandemic. They're taking part in approved recreational activities while making sure to adhere to the league's many health and safety regulations. Fishing has been an option some players have enjoyed. 

"The fishing conditions are very good, a lot of largemouth bass," Ben Simmons said Monday in a video conference call. "I fish a lot so this is what I do every day. I work out, play some video games and fish, so that's my day-to-day routine. But overall I think everyone is just doing something to be productive in some sort of aspect. 

"I think guys are enjoying it. Myself, personally, I'm just having a good time, getting ready for the games coming up and using the free time to just do something that I enjoy doing. So it's been good."

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We went fishing for some bass 🎣

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on Jul 12, 2020 at 11:40am PDT

Joel Embiid said Monday he's enjoying his "big TV and video games. … Just enjoying my time being on FaceTime basically 24/7 and playing video games."

The NBA and NBPA announced Monday that two players of the 322 tested in Orlando were positive for the coronavirus, and that those players never cleared quarantine. Though many questions linger about the league's approach, both in terms of efficacy and morality as the NBA ramps up to play in a location where COVID-19 has taken a serious toll on the healthcare system, it seems to have been successful so far in preventing a spread of the coronavirus on the Disney World campus.

Monday, ESPN reported that the Rockets' Bruno Caboclo unintentionally broke quarantine, while former Sixer Richaun Holmes tweeted that he accidentally breached the bubble to pick up a food delivery. Both players were subject to extended time in quarantine. The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Monday that multiple tips have been made to the NBA's anonymous hotline to report protocol violations. 

At least initially, Brett Brown thought his players were doing a good job of following all precautions. 

"How are the players responding? Well," Brown said Sunday. "Do I think it can be maintained? I do, as far as the discipline. We all worry about the virus, in some capacity, sneaking it. But I tell you what, full credit to the NBA for creating this environment, and credit to the players for being - albeit (in early days) - disciplined to do the things that they have asked us to do."

Rookie Matisse Thybulle's video series on life in the bubble has provided a look at this unusual existence for players. Thybulle is showing fans everything from testing procedures to practice banter to a masked general manager Elton Brand sinking a jumper. 

"He didn't get clearance to put me on," Simmons said with a smile. "I'm going to have to speak to him if he makes any money off it. But I love it, I love that he's capturing this moment. It's a historic moment for sports in general. I think what he's been doing has been great."

It's excellent insight from Thybulle into a situation nobody has ever come close to experiencing before. His two videos thus far have totaled over 500,000 views on YouTube, so Simmons may be wise to renegotiate a royalty agreement. 

On a more serious note, Mike Scott on Monday summed up life in the bubble well. He has no complaints.

"I just know how to adapt to situations I'm in," he said. "It's not that bad. The hotel room is good, food is solid. It's just basketball after that. It feels like camp, like a basketball camp. You go from your room to the court from the court to your room, see some players here and there, but for the most part, I'm not really tripping. It's straight, it's cool."

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Matisse Thybulle, Ben Simmons and Sixers provide insight into life in NBA 'bubble' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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