Lakers’ cohesiveness could be paying dividends in NBA bubble
Lakers guard Quinn Cook’s face contorted into a bewildered expression when he was asked to describe his day. But he answered anyway.
“I woke up, took my COVID test, went to breakfast, played video games, chilled with my teammates, went to practice, came back, ate dinner with my teammates, played more video games with my teammates,” Cook said, dryly. “So uh, very eventful day.”
Although lacking highlights, Cook’s description emphasized one thing — just how much time he and his teammates spend together as the league seeks to restart its season. And as the Lakers go into their second week of nonstop time together, their famously close-knit team chemistry might help them avoid the pitfalls present in so much proximity.
“If you have a team where maybe that chemistry isn’t as strong, there’s great risks of spending too much time together,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s something that I think all 22 of us teams are measuring, but I feel really good about the vibe that we had in the regular season, prior to the hiatus, and it feels the same now.”
The Lakers’ chemistry began to grow with a players-only camp in Las Vegas that was orchestrated by LeBron James. They then experienced a series of unusual events together that bonded them more closely.
Their personalities seemed to mesh seamlessly and could be seen during games in the way players on the bench erupted for their teammates, or the way the whole team would flock to one player who’d been knocked onto the ground to help him up.
The Lakers are in Orlando, Fla., inside the NBA’s restart bubble, and reporter Tania Ganguli gives you some insight on the quarantine process.
Back then, though, they got some time apart. They would shower and change after home games, then go home to their families or their pets, or both. For the next few months, they’ll have to ride to their temporary home on a bus while still wearing their sweaty uniforms. After a loss, they won’t get much time apart.
“A lot is going to depend on how the team functions and in particular ways in which the team can feel some level of cohesiveness and being together in this very strange and different time,” said Kate Hays, a sports psychologist based out of Toronto. “I think having that sense of peers who know a whole lot about each other and appreciate idiosyncrasies and individual differences will be very, very helpful and very important to their mental well-being as well as their playing capacity.”
So far, the Lakers haven’t minded. There are some ways to be apart, but many of them choose to do things like eat and relax together anyway, whether that’s with a game of Connect Four or a video game contest.
Lakers center Dwight Howard says he was warned about not wearing a mask after a tip to the NBA’s snitch hotline. Many players are pushing back on it.
“We’re very, very close-knit,” Cook said. “So all of us are always together.”
Rondo has surgery
Lakers backup point guard Rajon Rondo had successful surgery to repair his fractured right thumb on Wednesday. Rondo left the NBA campus in order to have his surgery and Vogel said he will also rehab elsewhere.
Rondo broke his right thumb during practice Saturday. The team said he is expected to return to full basketball activities in six to eight weeks.
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