Celtics Preparing for New Type of Quarantine Life in Orlando

BOSTON – ‘Quarantine Life’ has been a double-edged sword for many NBA players who are preparing to restart their season this month at Walt Disney World in Florida.

On one hand, quarantine has allowed players to spend more time with their family and friends than they ever have before during their careers.

On the other hand, they’ve become accustomed to those daily interactions, and now they’re about to head to the other end of the spectrum upon arrival in Florida.

“I can’t remember the last time I stayed home for three straight months with my family and my kids,” Daniel Theis, a father of two, said Thursday afternoon during a press conference over Zoom. “And now we’re about to go from one extreme to another. Now we go to Orlando for three months. It’s going to be hard for me, just being away from my family again.”

Theis and the Celtics depart July 8 for Orlando, and if all goes as planned, they will not return to Boston until mid-October. A small number of family members or friends may be allowed to join players in the Orlando bubble at some point during the postseason, but players will go at least six weeks without seeing those important people in person for even one second.

That’s a mental challenge in and of itself. Add in the NBA’s guidelines and restrictions that the players must abide by while living inside the bubble, and you find a scenario in which players will be living a life they’ve never experienced before.

“It’s a big sacrifice for the players who are going out there to just stay in the room for like two or three months,” said Enes Kanter. “I think everyone has to do their part to, I guess, to keep the team safe.”

While players such as Theis and Gordon Hayward, who are married with young children, will be separated from their families, there are other players like Kanter and Kemba Walker who are single with no kids. They made it sound as if their adjustment to Orlando will be far easier than that of their teammates who are fathers and husbands.

“For me, I’m a single man with no kids, so I’m gonna be fine,” Walker said Wednesday afternoon. “All I do is stay in the house anyways, so there’s nothing wrong with just staying in the room.”

Kanter is far more of an extrovert than Walker, but he, too, believes he’ll be able to adjust well to an environment that will restrict what he can and can’t do, and who he can and can’t see.

“I am a single guy, too,” he said in response to Walker’s comments. “I am outgoing, but I don’t need to go out … I’m not a big gamer. I guess I’ll start playing games, because I see all my teammates talk about Call of Duty and Fortnite and (NBA) 2K and FIFA, whatever. So I guess I’ll just start playing those games.”

Players are willing to commit to this isolated environment in order to continue the season and get back to what they’ve been doing for their entire lives: playing basketball. The Celtics are energized to play, regardless of their family situations.

“From a basketball standpoint, I’m just excited,” said Theis. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us as a team and also every team has the same chance because there’s no home-court advantage. It’s just about who’s the better team on the court.”

Walker concurred, saying, “I’m actually looking forward to it, just because I’m ready to play basketball. I’m ready to enjoy myself.”

In Orlando, enjoyment will look and feel far different than it has for the past three-plus months. Players have become used to being quarantined at their homes, surrounded by their closest family or friends.

Now they’re preparing to be isolated with their teammates, with basketball at the core of every day for up to three-and-a-half months.

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