Creating an isolated environment, likely in Las Vegas or Orlando, has been a prominent plan as the NBA searches for ways to safely resume its season. However, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts recently questioned what it would take to enforce those conditions, saying it sounds like “incarceration.” Haslem echoes those comments, stating that players need “outlets” beyond just the game or it will result in “bad basketball.”
“There’s a lot that goes on to prepare for a season mentally,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into going out there and performing at a high level every night, and especially when you put yourself in a playoff atmosphere. I was one of those guys who’s always needed different outlets, for my mental health. So just moving forward, if that is something that we’re going to do, you just hope that both the league and the Players’ Association are smart about making sure we have different outlets, as far not just letting us out to play games and then locking us back up in the hotel, in quarantine.”
Commissioner Adam Silver has responded to those concerned about a bubble, suggesting players could be placed in more of a “campus” setting. Teams would stay at a central location where games would take place, but the players would be able to leave the site and would get a COVID-19 test when they return.
Even under those conditions, players face the possibility of being isolated from their families for two months or more, depending on how much of the regular season gets played before the playoffs begin. That would be unprecedented even for a veteran like Haslem, who is in his 17th NBA season and 18th in professional basketball.
“I’ve never been away from my family for that long,” he said. “Obviously, back in the day, when we would take the West Coast trips with the Big Three, when LeBron (James) first got here, it felt like a month. But, no, never, not even with my travels to Europe, away from the family, have I been away that long. So it will be tough. It will be definitely tough for a lot of us.”