Lakers' Frank Vogel Says He's Thought About Mandating Players Spend Time Apart
Twenty-four seven is a lot of time.
Even for a team that loves spending time together.
One month into the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Lakers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged that he's thought about requiring the players spend some time apart.
"I have thought about it," Vogel said in a videoconference call Sunday, before clarifying that he hasn't yet taken that step.
The novelty of the bubble has worn off and the Lakers acknowledged they're feeling the loneliness of being away from their families and the monotony of being confined to the NBA campus at Walt Disney World near Orlando.
"You can see day-by-day it’s kind of wearing on guys, and guys get kind of antsy and are wondering: when can they bring their families here, who can they bring, and how many people," Green said. "Just kind of counting down the days for that to happen."
Players that are a part of the 22-team restart won't be able to see their families until after the first round of the playoffs, which begin Aug 17. The second round starts Aug. 31, 55 days after the the Lakers arrived in the bubble on July 9.
LeBron James, who is in his 17th season in the league, said he's never gone this long without seeing his loved ones.
"Obviously being away from your family is an unbelievable sacrifice that we’re all making and it’s very difficult," James said Aug. 3. "I mean, we go on the road and we have road games and sometimes you go on a West Coast, East Coast road trips. You have 11-day road trips, five-six games, and sometimes, even when you play in the Olympics, you can be away from your family for a little bit [longer] because you travel from country to country. But nothing has ever compared to this. So it’s a huge sacrifice that we’re all making. I miss the hell out of my family. My wife, my kids, my mother. And so on and so on. So, it’s a huge challenge. It’s a huge challenge to be able to stay locked in."
The NBA has tried to make the bubble as pleasant as possible, with activities such as fishing, golf, bowling, bike riding and beach volleyball available to the athletes.
The Lakers have spent much of their downtime in the bubble playing video games against each other and trying to make the best of the situation.
But it's grueling.
"It definitely adds up over time, you get a little cabin fever," JaVale McGee said Sunday. "...Just being in the same place doing the same things every day with no variation. But it’s necessary for the goal in hand, which is to win an NBA championship. We all knew what we were getting ourselves into. It’s actually more things to do than we actually anticipated, so it’s not horrible. Of course we’d rather be playing our games in front of our fans and our crowd and in our own homes, but it just is what it is right now."
The Lakers (51-18) clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference last week for the first time since 2010.
But they've struggled offensively during the restart.
They've lost three games in a row. And over their six seeding games, they've shot 41.1 percent from the field and 25.4 percent from beyond the three-point line, down from 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc before the hiatus.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel says he's not worried.
"I’m very confident that we’re very close to where we were when the hiatus came," Vogel said. "I know we’ve lost a couple in a row, but I’m really not concerned about that. Our two big guns have had really big nights, just not at the same time yet."
Green said everyone is adjusting to getting their legs back under them after four months off and playing without fans.
But he added that games have felt different for another reason: trash talk. He said guys are sniping at each other more than usual and he's even seen some tension among other teams.
"I think it’s within some teams, too," Green said. "You’re seeing guys get less patient with each other, some teams get less patient with each other. That’s gonna be another challenge, another task, another obstacle that you’re going to have to fight through. Being in that type of atmosphere all the time and trying to get the chemistry right, and not have the escape that you normally have, or the outlets you normally have that are right there for you. So the mental aspect of it gets only tougher and tougher every day."
Green added that during this highly unusual time, players are especially grateful for one thing.
It's providing a sense of normalcy amid a very isolating time.
"The biggest thing is social media and FaceTime," Green said. "The technology we have now allows us to be close to our families even though we’re not there. Able to talk to them every day via phone and FaceTime and be able to see our kids, our dogs or family members. That’s the only thing that’s pretty much helping us right now."