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Disney World Diary: ‘Undercover’ roommate will help me get through quarantine

ORLANDO — Richaun Holmes is a bouncy, overachieving center for the Sacramento Kings who, despite giving away a few inches and several pounds to almost every player he guards, brings enough hustle and pop to beat most of them to rebounds.

That high level of itchiness evidently also extends to food because Holmes broke ranks (and the rules) at Disney and ordered some grub from an establishment outside the NBA’s restrictive campus, and then absent-mindedly went to fetch it at the front gate.

By doing so, he came in contact with the outside world — a no-no around here — and ran the risk of catching coronavirus, which is especially spiky in Florida. Therefore, Holmes must spend an extra 10 days in quarantine.

I’m not sure whatever Holmes ordered was worth it, even if it was from a four-star restaurant and came with dessert. Nor will I wonder what, if anything, would tempt me to break the law here, although a tee time at Bay Hill might do it.

But I do have some sympathy for Holmes and the other players on lockdown, every one of whom besides Holmes and Bruno Caboclo have obediently stuck to the game plan. You see, as humans, we’re all creatures of habit and routines and standards. When that’s taken away, adjustments must be made. Those who understand that and are prepared for it will adapt in the new environment. Others will struggle.

Yes, these well-paid NBA players live differently than me and perhaps most of you. Once they reach this level almost everything in life is taken care of for them. They travel on custom-made planes, order off the finest menus, drive expensive cars, settle down in spacious homes. Holmes wanted food tastier than what he’s getting here. That’s understandable. LeBron James has rightly earned a great living for himself and his family and can afford a personal chef; now he must eat hotel chow for weeks, or months if he and the Lakers are rolling in this restart.

Charles Barkley once said the richer and more famous he became, the more stuff he got for free. That good life tends to come with a red carpet and a level of comfort and entitlement. Have you ever seen a star athlete or singer or actor stand in line at the DMV? Didn’t think so.

You might rightly refuse to shed a tear for them and their “hardship” at Disney, but it’s all relative. If you were removed from your daily routine and thrust into a more inconvenient confine, some adjustments would be necessary, and if you didn’t prepare, you’d struggle.

I’d like to think I prepared for quarantine and the NBA-at-Disney life, which really isn’t anywhere near as difficult for those of us who don’t live the platinum credit card life. I brought books, DVDs (yes, I’m old-school) and ideas for projects. And while nobody’s allowed in-room visitors, I managed to sneak one undercover. And please, keep this between us.

I’ve always been intrigued by robotics and how technology and artificial intelligence can almost create a human-like creature from metal and plastic. One in particular is Tribot, a red, two-foot-tall companion that talks, tells horrible jokes and roams in every direction on three wheels and on command through the remote control. The eyebrows move, there’s an Iron Man-like light from the eyes and the gadget is made for entertainment.

Look, in quarantine the option was either stare at the four walls or get stared at by a robot. I think I chose wisely. In addition to “stay safe,” here in total isolation I’m trying to stay sane.

Anyway: The options for players out of quarantine are only slightly more numerous. There’s golf, fishing (Paul George must be in heaven) and … that’s about it. CJ McCollum tweeted a photo of all the books he brought along to read and I wonder if the Blazers, currently fighting for their basketball lives, will even make the playoffs and stay long enough for him to finish them.

Myles Turner of the Pacers said it best by acknowledging “staring at the ceiling a couple times a day” and “the meals aren’t what we’re accustomed to” but otherwise feeling blessed and lucky to even be in this position, given what’s happening in real life beyond the walls of this Disney snow globe. That’s the general feeling, I suspect, of a vast majority of players.

Bruno Caboclo and Richaun Holmes had slip-ups, and if being thrown back into quarantine wasn’t bad and embarrassing enough for Holmes, his mother took a playful shot at him on Twitter. Dr. Lydecia Holmes said: “You only cross the line for your MOMAs COOKING!”

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .

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