NBA, WNBA defend conditions in player 'bubbles'
Viral social media posts raised alarms about food, bed bugs
NBA and WNBA officials defended conditions in the leagues’ coronavirus “bubbles” on Wednesday after a series of viral social media posts raised alarms about players’ food options and living quarters.
Scrutiny began after Denver Nuggets guard Troy Daniels posted a picture of his first meal upon arrival at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando. The image drew immediate mockery on social media, with critics likening Daniels’ dinner to "airplane food" and the infamous Fyre Festival, a doomed music event where attendees were given cheese sandwiches in place of luxury dining.
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The NBA said meal options will improve once players complete their mandatory 48-hour quarantine period after arriving at the bubble. Once the quarantine is over, all 22 teams participating in the season restart will have access to their own Disney culinary team.
"After clearing quarantine, players will also have access to various restaurants on campus and delivery options to choose from,” a league spokesperson told FOX Business. “Players will receive three meals a day and four meals on game days. There is never a shortage of food options – players can always request additional food by speaking with their team nutritionists.”
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The 22 teams participating in the NBA’s restart are confined to the “bubble” at Walt Disney World for the duration of the season. League officials enacted strict safety guidelines, including mandatory social distancing and health screenings, to protect players during the coronavirus pandemic.
Criticism wasn’t limited to the NBA’s bubble. While some WNBA players praised conditions at IMG Academy in Florida, several others expressed concern about the cleanliness of their rooms.
ESPN employee Kayla Johnson posted videos that showed worms and mouse traps in facilities offered to WNBA players. Two WNBA teams found evidence of bed bugs in their living quarters, Deadspin reported.
The WNBA said it is already working to address player concerns about conditions at IMG Academy. The league also pushed back on claims that bed bugs were found.
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“We have been working closely with IMG and the Players Association to address issues players have expressed about one of the housing locations on campus,” the WNBA said in a statement. “IMG is accommodating all player requests regarding these issues, including moving players to other accommodations. Additionally, in an expedited manner IMG brought in a third party exterminator to inspect the areas where a few issues were raised and they found no bed bugs.”
Other players were less critical of the setup. Chicago Sky star Cheyenne Parker shared videos on social media in which she praised conditions at IMG. Minnesota Lynx star Lexie Brown said conditions on display in Johnson’s video were “disgusting and unacceptable,” but added that her own experience so far had been “super nice.”
The NBA and WNBA are each set to resume play later this month.