The Orlando bubble may have been a success in the eyes of the community, but there are some drawbacks to having everyone in close proximity like that.
For Kawhi Leonard, he experienced some consequences of the bubble personally, being inadvertently woken up by his old boss, Masai Ujiri, at 5:00 in the morning.
Here’s the story, as told by GQ’s Taylor Rooks:
For example, every day at 5 a.m., inside room 950 in the Gran Destino (where all the top-seeded teams stayed), Masai Ujiri would wake up, read his book, hop on the Peloton, and work out before heading down for breakfast. He thought nothing of his daily ritual until one morning, several weeks into the bubble, when he got a text from another former player of his: “Morning boss, you good up there?”
The text was from Kawhi Leonard—Finals MVP with the Raptors, now a star on the Clippers—who was staying in room 850, directly below his old boss. Ujiri had been waking Kawhi up with his noisy workouts for weeks, but Kawhi was reluctant to say anything.
Ujiri told Kawhi that he would stop for the time being and joked that he would continue again when the Raptors met the Clippers in the Finals, messing with Kawhi’s sleep. Kawhi responded with the kind of trash talk that’s best read aloud in Kawhi’s dry monotone: “Haha, you know the saying ‘Don’t poke the bear’? I’m gonna call the NBA on you…get you out the bubble.”
Overall, the NBA’s implementation of the bubble was amazing and example-setting. Not only did they successfully make it through the season, but they also kept every player COVID-free, a feat that many thought impossible.
Unfortunately, Kawhi was the victim of an unintended consequence of the bubble action. As Masai Ujiri played out his morning, he was unaware of the impact he was having right below his feet. And Kawhi, being Kawhi, didn’t even bring it up until weeks later.
It’s a funny little coincidence, but also a sneak peek into what life inside the bubble was like for some of these players.
For Leonard and Masai, it involved some early morning (whether by intention or not).