Living in the Bubble


Abby attends a Maverick’s game with her father last season.

Kate Clark, Managing Editor

For 58 days, sophomore Abby Carlisle’s dad, Rick Carlisle, the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, lived in the NBA Bubble.

The Bubble, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, was the isolation area created for NBA teams to finish their 2019-2020 season while staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My mother and I have always been used to him traveling, but he is typically only absent for a few days,” Abby said. “It was definitely a shift and we missed him a lot, but we mainly operated for 58 days just like he was out of town during the regular season.”

Upon Rick’s arrival to the Bubble, he was sent to his room for 48 hours alone to quarantine. After quarantining, everyone was tested for COVID-19 before they could to continue their stay in the Bubble.

“We were tested every day and we had to keep getting negative tests
to stay,” Rick said. “There was also an app where we would enter our temperature and pulse and fill out a questionnaire asking us how we were feeling.”

For the duration of their time in the Bubble, there were zero positive tests.

Rick said being away from his family for so long was the most difficult process of his experience in the Bubble.

“I missed my family so much,” he said. “It’s hard being away from your wife and daughter for so long,”

Since being away from family was affecting the coaches and players’ mental health, the inhabitants of the Bubble had the option of speaking to a mental health specialist.

Abby and her mother could not visit the Bubble because the tournament restricted visitors to only families of the athletes. If those families wanted to visit, they would have to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel room before seeing the specified athlete or anyone else living in the Bubble.

The Carlisles used different platforms to communicate so Rick could tell his family about his work in the Bubble.

“He said he pretty much lived at his job,” Abby said. “While his job always played a major role in his
life, his day to day life in the Bubble completely revolved around it a lot more than it did when he was home.”

Along with family members, fans could not be at the games in person. The NBA used Microsoft Teams’ new Together Mode to put basketball fans in the stands with a virtual live feed of the game.

“The fans play a major role in basketball,” Abby said. “Going from being in your home court with a stadium full of fans, to an empty court with fans on screens, makes
a huge difference in the sense of community that basketball brings to not just the fans, but the players and coaches too.”

However, the experience still allowed fans to feel like they were sitting courtside and were cheering for their team. Regardless, this method was still very different from having the playoffs at the teams’ home courts.

“It was a very neutral environment because it took away the home court advantage,” Rick said.

After the Mavericks lost in the first round of the playoffs, Rick returned home the next day.

“We were very excited to see him,” Abby said. “And it only took a day for things to go back to normal like they were before he left!”