- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2020

Ish Smith went to CVS to stock up. The Washington Wizards point guard is one of the hundreds of players set to enter the NBA’s “bubble” this week near Orlando, Florida, and so Smith purchased items to get ready.

Smith tried to get all his essentials: Dove body wash, clean-and-clear face wash and toothpaste. And he bought the items in twos, so he can be prepared for the weeks, if not months, he’ll spend at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

“I feel like Noah’s Ark,” Smith said. “I just grabbed two of everything.”

The Wizards leave for Orlando on Tuesday to begin their foray into the NBA’s restart. Should the league’s relaunch go off as planned, the Wizards will be there at least through Aug. 13 — when the remaining eight-game regular season for 22 teams concludes. And Washington will stay there longer if it forces a play-in series for the No. 8 seed and makes the playoffs.

Washington has finalized its list of 35 people — composed of players, coaches and staff — going to the bubble. Coach Scott Brooks said Monday that star Bradley Beal will travel with the Wizards to Florida, but added the two-time All-Star still has yet to decide if he’ll play when the season begins later this month.

Upon arriving, the Wizards will stay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, a hotel that will also host the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns. Then, the Wizards will be tested for COVID-19 and be quarantined for two days while they await test results.

Some have tried to stay optimistic as it approaches.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as it’s portrayed or what we’re thinking,” Smith said. “We got to get out there and see how it goes. It’s uncharted territory. None of us have experienced this. … It’s different, but that’s okay. We’re going to have to adjust and kind of push through.

“I truly feel that it’s going to be an experience that once we’re done, we’ll look back at it and (say), ‘You know what? That wasn’t too bad.’”

Last week, Beal expressed concern over the setup — “there’s a lot of (stuff) we can’t do,” he said — but understood it was what the league and its players agreed upon. He said he was willing to keep an open mind, but wanted to make sure people were following the guidelines seriously.

Those involved will also have to say goodbye to their families, for the time being. Players aren’t allowed to bring family members into the bubble until after the first round of the playoffs, which would start Aug. 30 at the latest.

Brooks already has been separated from his family for three weeks, when he returned to the District from his family’s home in California. He’s prepared to not see them for another two months.

“It’s not easy, but it’s part of my job, my responsibility,” Brooks said. “And I love it, but it’s going to be tough. … Not one person I know wants to be away from their family. I know my wife, at times, loves it when I do go on a road trip, but I do come back in five to 10 days. It’s definitely challenging.”

The Wizards had to leave certain members of the staff back at the team’s facility due to the league’s space restrictions, Brooks said. He added those assistants will still contribute remotely.

Brooks expects the next few days to be “challenging” as they get used to their new environment. But he said he’s looking forward to resuming play.

“We hopefully will never have to go through something like this again,” Brooks said. “But this is something that’s going to be a different experience. … We all have this journey that we call life and it’s going to be another part of it.”

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