2020 Bubble Blog: Camp Defined Togetherness


The Hornets checked in to Gatorade Grind Camp on Sept. 21 and started things off with a mandated quarantine. Now it's time to take the court, and members of the Hornets Communications and Digital Team inside the bubble will be keeping us up to date behind the scenes and letting us know how their roles are changing and evolving. Keep checking back to see what they have to say here in the Gatorade Grind Camp Bubble Blog

By Nick Bolick, Associate Producer

Oct. 3, 2020

ISSHO.  A Japanese saying meaning TOGETHER.  When we arrived at camp, there were two things on my bed: a golf towel and a luggage tag embroidered with the phrase “ISSHO” and my last name.  I had no idea what it meant until Coach Borrego mentioned it on our welcome zoom call.  This simple gesture went a long way to show me Coach Borrego cares about every member of the staff, basketball operations or not.  And as we went through the last day of the Gatorade Grind Camp, I’d never seen this group of players, coaches and staff more TOGETHER than we are now. 

When I step into any situation with our team and staff, I have one main goal I look to accomplish.  Make people FEEL good.  Now, this takes many different shapes.  Often times, people aren’t going to remember the work you did or the time you spent doing something, but what they will remember is how you make them FEEL.  How can we make our players and staff feel comfortable in studio doing reads?  How can we be loose enough with the players out on the golf course and in the “lodge” to really be able to draw good reactions out of them?  All of this is intertwined.  If we as the social and video team can make our team FEEL comfortable around us, the results directly translate to better pieces and better results on all of our media platforms.   

I’m sure many of you are curious what the atmosphere has been like inside of the bubble.  I can honestly tell you it has been ELECTRIC.  Never a dull moment amongst the players and staff.  In fact, just being a fly on the wall seeing the players interact with one another has made me realize how close of a group we have here in Charlotte.  Whether it’s screaming over a game of cards, measuring distance on the driving range or back-and-fourth rallies in ping pong, our guys love to compete at anything they can get their hands on.   

Now step onto the hardwood with me.  Phew.  I have chills down my spine writing this.  I don’t know how much I can say regarding on court performance, but please trust me when I say some guys have FLASHED during camp. I know we talk about player development a lot, but you can absolutely tell our guys have been putting in work to improve their overall game.  We’re seeing some things from guys we didn’t see before. Believe that.  

Wrapping up, the bubble has brought us all together as an organization.  During the regular season, us as digital folks are friendly in passing with the coaching staff and players, but we never truly have a chance to get to know them as people.  The bubble has allowed us to really build that trust and togetherness with everyone involved.  I’m thankful we have such a tight-knit group who truly cares on a personal level.  I mention this because togetherness will go a long way in creating authentic content that our amazing Hornets fans will enjoy. 

Team culture is just as important as talent on the court.  If you don’t have a tight bond, getting through an 82-game season can be taxing.  After having this front row seat and witnessing how much our culture has evolved, I can assure all of the fans we’re on the way to something special here in Buzz City.  Stick with us for the ride. We’ll move forward the only way we know how - together. 

By Jesse Diebolt, Digital Media Designer/Photographer

Good to See Team's Growth in Camp

Oct. 1, 2020

Day 11 (including two days of quarantine) is in the books at the Hornets Gatorade Grind Camp. Like much of 2020, the days have flown by and found a way to blend together.

Every day has been a whirlwind of shuttle rides to and from Spectrum Center, basketball, golf, tennis, good food and conversations. While getting back to basketball is very important, it’s clear that rebuilding team chemistry and establishing camaraderie amongst players and staff is of equal importance right now.

We’ve been apart for over six months. Not only has the “bubble” atmosphere ensured everyone is in good health, but it has also allowed us to reconnect. For players, team chemistry and communication is key on the court, but it has to be cultivated by a strong culture that starts off the court. For staff, like myself or others on the Hornets Digital Team, chemistry and communication is also vital to our success. Capturing and collecting content is not a simple task. It’s imperative that we’re all on the same page and working together as a collective unit to create the content Hornets fans know and love.

My main job over the past 11 days has been photography. Our basketball ops staff and communications team have granted us amazing access to the team and it’s made for some great content. I’ve tried my best to document the experience of Grind Camp on and off the court - the NBA isn’t just an on-court experience. Whether it’s a Gatorade break for Miles Bridges after a highlight dunk in practice, or a smile from assistant coach Jay Hernandez between sets on the tennis court – there are moments that capture thousands of emotions, stories and feelings that make it all special.

I’ve been with the Hornets for three full seasons and as time goes on I’ve found myself appreciating our team more and more. Not for the Devonte’ Graham game winners or the Martin Twins’ hustle plays (although those are still great) but for the human beings behind it all. It’s easy to look at pro athletes as characters you see on TV, but at the end of the day they’re just regular guys working hard to make their dreams become a reality. I hope that our Grind Camp content has given fans a peek into my perspective as someone on the inside of the Hornets organization.

Grind Happening Behind the Cameras Too

By Elliott Stark, Associate Producer

Sept. 25, 2020

Ankles are taped, masks are up, and we’re officially rolling at the Gatorade Grind Camp. The Hornets began their in-market mini bubble on Monday and let me tell you, looking through our cameras out on the practice court, the intensity is already high. Hopefully, we’ve been doing a good job conveying that to all you Hornets fans out there keeping up with what’s going on in camp. I must say, whoever came up with the name for the Gatorade Grind Camp name had it spot on, because that’s exactly what it has been… a grind.

We begin each day around 7 a.m. with our morning testing before grabbing something to eat and loading up and heading out to the practice facility. Our practices thus far have consisted of drills, stretching and an hour of 5-on-5 scrimmages. It’s been really fun to watch the excitement and effort these guys are playing with. Every loss is personal, every win is earned.

After workouts, it’s back to the hotel for lunch, treatments and media availability. We're running two to three guys each day into our makeshift studio for other miscellaneous organizational reads and some brief interviews. After that, we’re able to edit for a few hours, grab some dinner, edit some more, film a bit more before heading off to sleep. I’m loving every minute of it!

It’s really been an honor and a blessing to be able to be inside the bubble and capture what we believe will be some amazing content in this once-in-a lifetime environment. It’s taking some adjustment to get into the flow of the day – hey, we’ve got to shake off a little of the rust too – but we’re excited to put out more content for you die-hard Hornets fans.

Looking ahead, we’ve got some more all-Access pieces, highlights, and general shenanigans from the guys that we’re excited to share. Thanks for tuning in and stay safe!

Wait is Over, Let's Tip Things Off

By Brian Travis, Director of Basketball Communications

Sept. 23, 2020

When we all heard the NBA and the National Basketball Player’s Association agreed to a format for those of us that didn’t get to Orlando to finally have some team activity, I don’t think any of us truly knew what to expect. Where would we stay, what would it look like, how long would we be there and how tired of each other would we all get?!?! As a member of the Hornets Communications staff, I usually spend the bulk of my time in our practice facility, at Spectrum Center and out on the road with our team. Between myself and a few members of our @hornets social and video team, we’ll look to give you a sense of what the Hornets Gatorade Grind Camp is like in the coming weeks.

We’ve only just begun and barely gotten through our two-day quarantine in our room, but the energy and excitement from the group to just be together again as a whole for the first time since March 13 is palpable. I arrived and only saw our players and basketball staff in passing on Monday morning as we checked in. Seeing some familiar faces that I’d only seen on Zoom calls and FaceTime in the last few months was a fun way to start the week. After we were sequestered to our rooms, I thought the only thing I’d have to look forward to the next two days was the windows when I got to order meals via room service. It soon became apparent that staying locked in on social media would provide much more than just that. Only 48 hours in and I’ve learned that if I’m pining for some relaxation and assembly of puzzles, Cody Zeller is my guy. Likewise, if one needs additional snack foods, Caleb Martin basically brought an entire vending machine’s worth.

Over our careers, we spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. In fact, we often travel to the far and frozen reaches of the Upper Midwest or Northeast and the weather isn’t conducive to getting out and about. I don’t think though, that I’ve ever been in a hotel room and known I can’t leave it for 36-48 hours. In some ways it was strange, but in other ways the usual routine of video conference meetings and some sports programming on in the background helped move things along.

Tuesday was by and large spent passing the time and waiting for news of when we would get to head to dinner – the first group outing and first time to have a meal together. Dinner time arrived close to the start of the Western Conference Finals game, and it was clear that though our last game was played months ago, basketball is still the central focus of everyone here as people grabbed plates and pulled up to watch the game. While everyone enjoyed watching the game together, I know we are all anxious to hear the squeaking of shoes, watch coach call out of plays, and take in a few high-flying Miles Bridges dunks on the practice court tomorrow.

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