Through a Global Pandemic Basketball Continues at all Levels


Davis Cuffe, Sports Editor

In the wake of a global pandemic one thing remains constant: basketball players at all levels from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Davis Drive Panthers, continue to train and compete. In this article, we´ll be taking a deep dive into the life of the average NBA player inside the Bubble working to win an NBA championship and a Green Hope Freshman working to make JV. For our high school student, we´ll be using Grayson Cuffe, a freshman at Green Hope who has been working all summer to make Green Hope’s junior varsity basketball team. Our NBA player we will be highlighting rookie guard for the Philadelphia 76ers Matisse Thybulle. Unfortunately, I was unable to seize an interview with Mr. Thybulle so for this article I will be basing his day off of what was recorded in his vlog series ¨Welcome to The Bubble¨ which can be found on YouTube.
Grayson: After a long night of watching basketball and studying Grayson Cuffe trudges down the steps in his home to eat breakfast and gather his strength for the long day of online school ahead of him. He had stayed up far too late watching his favorite team, the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Houston Rockets. Grayson had not gotten enough sleep and was expecting to be tired throughout the day. On the way to the kitchen Grayson greeted his Mother, a teacher, who was also preparing for a day of online school. When Grayson reached the kitchen he made himself a bowl of cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats, and plopped himself down at the kitchen table, ready to eat.
Matisse: Matisse Thybulle awoke in an unfamiliar place. On March 11th the NBA season was suspended due to COVID-19, leaving many wondering if the NBA season would ever resume, but then, in late June a solution was found. Twenty-two of the best teams in the NBA would be quarantined in the NBA ¨Bubble¨ where they would complete the NBA season and postseason. What the ¨Bubble¨ is essentially, is an isolation, or quarantine zone in the Orlando, Florida Disney sports complex created to keep players safe from the ongoing pandemic so that they can finish out the NBA season. Matisse, as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, would be staying in the Bubble for quite some time so he’d have to get used to these early mornings inside a hotel. In order to help get acclimated Matisse chose to wake up to a familiar face and FaceTimed his father. After chatting briefly with his father Matisse got up and began preparing for the day. After applying his skincare routine and receiving a massage from the team trainers Matisse headed downstairs to get breakfast. ¨To whoever made the decision that the Sixer had practice at 9 AM, you suck¨ Matisse remarks as he makes his way down to breakfast. On the way down the stairs Matisse spots Joel Embiid, his All-NBA, superstar teammate and the two have a brief exchange before getting breakfast. After a brief COVID test Mathisse heads down into the dining room where he collects his high protein meal of potatoes,chicken and orange juice. Each packaged into small plastic containers. After eating his meal Matisse makes his way to the bus which will take him to the practice facility.
Grayson: In a matter of minutes his breakfast is gone he has no time to savour or enjoy, he has a busy day ahead of him and wants to get to his workplace early so that he can get ahead of his schoolwork. After taking around fifteen minutes to complete his schoolwork Grayson trudges through the first half of the school day until lunch where he and his brother go out and get Chic Fil A.
Matisse: At 9 AM sharp Matisse enters the practice facility. Although its not as nice as the facility in Philadelphia back home it’s still a multi-million dollar facility with anything a player could need. Matisse watches his teammate, Marial Shayok, a 2nd round rookie from Iowa state knock down threes for a while before he and his teammates jump into practice. During practice, Mattise works with the training staff to improve his game. After practice, Matisse hops back on the team bus and rides back to the resort. Once back at the resort Matisse has free time and grabs his mask before he goes down to the resort´s lounge where the NBA has provided the players with snacks and entertainment, such as a Rubix cube which is Matisse’s game of choice. Matisse, a master of the Rubix cube successfully completes the cube in under three minutes despite the effort of his veteran teammates. After boasting of his success with the cube Matisse heads back up to his room where he takes some time to gather his energy. Soon after he gets a call from his teammate Kyle O’Quinn telling Matisse to come down to the other lounge provided to the players, the player’s lounge. There he is greeted by Kyle and another one of Matisse’s teammates Tobias Harris, a supermax contract player set to make $32.74 million in 2020. The player’s lounge is eccentric, with TV´s on every wall with comfortable looking couches, ping pong and air hockey tables spread out across the room along with food laid out on platters on some of the tables for the players to fuel up, there are even arcade machines tucked into some of the far corners of the room. It’s a player´s paradise, and where Matisse chooses to have lunch. After lunch, Matisse heads back up into his room where he has an interview scheduled with the LA Times. Upon completion of the interview Matisse gets dinner before taking his second COVID-19 Test which every player has to take and heads to bed.
Grayson: Grayson completes his day of school at 2:18 and spends about a half-hour afterward working on homework. As a son of two teachers, education comes first in the Cuffe household. Upon completion of his schoolwork, Grayson gets straight to basketball. This part of his day is far less glamorous than Mattise´s. There is no team bus but his neighbor’s mom´s minivan. There is no multi-million dollar practice facility but a public outdoor court. There is no training staff or All-NBA teammates but other basketball players, one being his neighbor, Walker Hamilton, a sophomore at Green Hope, who was a contributor off the bench for Green Hope’s JV team. Grayson and the other players there play for about an hour. Grayson, who is without coach instruction due to sports being suspended due to COVID has to choose what he works on during that hour of play. Today he chooses to work on post defense and driving. He practices his post defense by guarding Walker during their scrimmage who has a great post-game offensively. Grayson practices his driving by settling for jumpers less and choosing to drive into contact. Next in Grayson’s schedule is dinner. His Mom has cooked chicken and rice at the request of Grayson. He asked for this as Grayson has been trying to put on weight so he can be a better defender and a more physical offensive player. Grayson continues his quest to put on some extra pounds after dinner as he heads straight to his family´s ¨weight room¨ in the garage. With the gyms closed in Graysons´ area, he’s had to make due with what he’s had at home, which isn’t much. After about thirty-five minutes of weight training, Grayson works on his basketball skills again in his driveway. For this, he uses the basketball hoop in his driveway and a worn-out basketball given to him by his dad. He works on these skills by doing various footwork and dribbling drills he learned online and through AAU instruction. Thirty minutes later Grayson´s free time finally begins. Although there is no lavish player lounge he has his Xbox which Grayson plays on for about an hour before heading up to bed.
Even with COVID-19 still spreading throughout the world basketball continues to go on in all levels of the game. I know we all can’t wait to root for our local basketball team once sports resume!