The NBA bubble life ain’t easy. That is the early report from Lakers star LeBron James, whose team clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference this week but has yet to get himself adjusted to what has now been weeks—with more weeks to come—in a Disney resort hotel without seeing his family.
While, in the early stages of the league’s attempted restart in Orlando, the speculation was that James would not be fond of the food or accommodations the NBA has set up, it’s been missing his family that has been toughest on him.
“I miss the hell out of my family,” James told reporters this week. “My wife, my kids, my mother. And so on and so on. It’s a huge challenge.”
James and his wife, Savannah Brinson, have three children, LeBron Jr. (Bronny) who is 15, 13-year-old son Bryce and five-year old daughter Zhuri. Families will be allowed to join players at the NBA hotels after the first round of the playoffs, when the crowd of 22 teams currently on the campus will be reduced to eight.
The second round begins on August 31.
LeBron James ‘Won’t Be Turning My Phone Off’
James typically goes into a shutdown mode ahead of the NBA playoffs, when he keeps his phone off and stays off of social media. In this climate, though, he has said he intends to keep that phone on and running. It is the only connection he has with his family back in L.A.
“I won’t be turning my phone off during this run,” James said in a virtual press conference last week. “I can’t afford to. I have to continue to check in with my family every single day. … Making sure everything is still going well, especially in the uncertainty of what 2020 has brought to all of us. So I can’t afford to do that, just lose direct contact with everybody.”
James did sneak in a shout-out to the technology that has kept him connected to his wife and kids.
“I thank Steve Jobs a lot and the team at Apple for having FaceTime, because that is a beautiful thing to have, especially during a time like this,” he said.
LeBron James’ Numbers Are Down in the Bubble
James had enviable numbers heading into Wednesday’s game against the Thunder, averaging 19.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.0 assists, but by his own standards, those stats are underwhelming. During the season, before the start of the Orlando season reboot, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds.
He is shooting 44.0% from the field and 35.3% from the 3-point line. He had been shooting 49.8% and 34.9% from the 3-point line before the hiatus.
That is one reason that, even though the Lakers have secured the top seed in the conference, the coaching staff wants to play James (and Anthony Davis) as the Lakers proceed through the remaining seeding games.
“The plan right now is to play those guys,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said this week. “We still have a lot of areas to continue to improve before we feel like we’re ready to win games in the playoffs and to be at the level we want to reach. So for us, we’re still in habit-building mode. Continuing to just iron some things out, we’re not quite where we were in my opinion when the hiatus hit so our mindset is to continue to play our guys and to get there.”