NBA: Orlando Bubble Protocol Spits In Face Of Clownish National Leadership

By Drew Stevens (@lookwhatdrewdid)

It’s as simple as this, Aaron Rodgers.

If you no longer want any part of an organization whose general manager has begun to dig your grave even as you continue to withstand the rigors of professional quarterbacking with flying colors, then you should most certainly look for a change of scenery. You see how well things are working out for Tom Brady after he ended his longterm relationship with New England, right?

He found greener — and far warmer — pastures in Tampa Bay. Now while it may be tempting to move across country where friendlier climates and your childhood favorite 49ers play, remember, that team blew its chance with you years ago. Besides, the coldest dish of revenge you could serve that bay green and cheese gold-colored front office would be aligning yourself with its sworn enemy, the Chicago Bears.

That’s how you retaliate against Brian Gutekunst, who had the audacity to trade up to select Jordan Love in last year’s NFL Draft, and head coach Matt LaFleur, who was a little too eager to co-sign that move and chose Mason Crosby’s leg, not your invaluable arm, when it mattered most. After all, when you have a chance to really stick it to your ex you don’t date a stranger. You round the bases with the best friend.

Think about it.

Not only would you move from the hallowed ground at Lambeau Field to that at Soldier Field, but you’d also go from being one of the city’s most hated visitors to one of its most beloved residents a la Dennis Rodman.

Plus, you love it here. Or at least that’s what I took from how you talked about the chills you feel before game time listening to both Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem and Bears fans equally resounding reaction. “Those tingles over the years have made that place a really special environment,” you said in December. “And I do have a lot of respect for the organization, the fan base, their team.”

And we for you, albeit begrudgingly.

But you can’t really blame us for that though, can you? I mean, you did author a 35-16 beat down with your 240 yards and four touchdowns just a few days after speaking so highly of practically all things Chicago. Not to mention that was the 10th victory of your career in the Windy City in the 13 times you’ve played here. Hard feelings are even harder to shake when they’re mixed with the envy of watching your arch-rival swap one hall-of-fame signal caller for another while our carousel of mediocrity at that position continues to turn nonstop.

You can change that. You can rip that ride from its lousy rails. It’ll take some convincing, maybe even a little acting on your part. You’re pretty believable in those State Farm commercials. How good are you at faking or threatening retirement?

As far as compensation goes, tell Gutekunst we can offer the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft and future first-round picks in each of the next two as well. There figures to be a nice crop of blue chip offensive lineman this summer. Something for him to keep in mind given his franchise left tackle, David Bakhtiari, will be playing the rest of his career on a surgically-repaired knee. Also, considering how Kevin King had two touchdowns scored on him and drew a crippling defensive pass interference penalty that essentially robbed you of the chance to play in your second Super Bowl, it seems an upgrade at cornerback is in order. We’ve got a promising one in Jaylon Johnson he might be interested in, too.

If that package doesn’t move him, perhaps we can throw in the tag-and-trade of Allen Robinson. We’d much rather have the two of you here, but if we must sacrifice our most lethal offensive threat then so be it. You’re that special to us. Even today, just a handful of months from beginning your 17th year in the NFL.

Look. Breaking up is hard. There’s no two ways about it. But once you finish sopping up the best comfort food our city has to offer, you’ll adjust. You’ll see that while the sum of the Bears’ current weapons don’t yet compare to that of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan, you’ve had far less to work with in your career than David Montgomery, Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney.

None of this is to say you’d find the type of immediate success that Brady’s found with the Buccaneers. What it does mean is your arrival would, quite frankly, send an already rabid fanbase over the moon; push our mockery of a front office into credible standing; and our overworked defense into more favorable situations.

If nothing else, how satisfying would it be to flip the league’s oldest rivalry on its head, to force Gutekunst and LaFleur to forever rue the day they chose Love?

In Green Bay you had to escape the shadow of Brett Farve — who, against conventional wisdom, was cast out to the Jets of all teams after reaching near-deity status as a Cheeshead, his association with the Packers being the only one that can rival yours post-Bart Starr. Here, in Chicago, you’d cast a shadow as far as our franchise’s list of starting quarterbacks is long before you even threw your first pass in dark navy and orange.

The offseason is long. Our patience for a player your caliber has been woefully longer.

Just give it some thought.

Ok?

Adam Silver is a busy man, he stays busy I’m sure, and does so in the name of many ambitions he has for the National Basketball Association, but I wonder at times if Silver has left any stars for the rest of us basketball lovers to cast our own dreams upon.

Even with his league’s transportation to a fabled land gushing with jubilation and renowned for its spellbinding enchantment, the NBA commissioner couldn’t have pictured a more storybook manifestation of the plan he helped concoct earlier this year to revive a season many considered beyond rescue or unworthy of resuscitation altogether.

Out of almost nothing and with no real precedent to guide it, the NBA has plopped itself in the middle of a virus hot zone and is competing as if it didn’t have to reset it season amidst a crippling pandemic. The approximation still stuns after a week plus of games, with the digital wall of fans and ambient arena noises layering an on-court experience that has been as intense and competitive as any run-up to a postseason can be, whether starting in August or April.

And yet as the NBA reaches beyond its third consecutive week without a single player on the Walt Disney World Resort campus having tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, Silver has proven capable of conjuring up some magic of his own.

Meanwhile, those of us who live beyond the jurisdiction of Silver’s invisible sphere of sanctuary do so cautiously — or that’s the approach we’ve been urged to take anyway — as the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to lurk throughout our nation in similar obscurity but with much different results.

As of Thursday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 53,685 new cases of the coronavirus nationwide with 7,650 of those logged in Florida, the very state that’s home to the second-most cases in the country and also playing host to the NBAs “Whole New Game” for the next three months.

Illinois, too, has seen an uptick in cases, particularly among individuals between the ages of 20 and 29. That demographic, once thought to be a model of resiliency, now accounts for the most cases of any age group according to the Illinois Department of Health.

Additionally, amid the threat of a strike vote by the Chicago Teachers Union and a swell of concern from parents for the health and well-being of their children, the Chicago Public School system shelved plans to experiment with a hybrid method of learning earlier this week in favor of an exclusively remote model until, at least, November.

Conversely, on Wednesday the Archdiocese of Chicago informed parents of its intention to proceed with full-time, in-person instruction this Fall. While the superintendent of Catholic schools insists this is in the best interests of children, I count it as a premature step in a still very much dicey direction. Furthermore, the the archdiocese’s stance is indicative of the parochial approach modeled by President Donald Trump and mimicked by a growing portion of people in our society who have strayed away from recommended preventative measures or never bothered to adhere to them in the first place.

“We can look at our country and realize from the top we don’t have the ability to organize for all the reasons we know,” San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich told Mark Medina of USA Today Wednesday.

“As a population, you worry about the fiber of our country to some degree because we just don’t have the discipline. All we want is this instant gratification,” the 71-year-old five-time NBA champion head coach and former Air Force officer continued.

“People don’t understand the long-term effects. It would’ve been a lot more wise spending time worrying about how to open schools than how to open bars.”

So, here we are, some five months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic — one that, as of Thursday, has led to 157,631 deaths and resulted in the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression — and there still isn’t even a nationwide mandate for people to wear face coverings in public.

A much different set of circumstances than those currently being enjoyed within the NBAs own version of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

NBA players, coaches and staff are currently in the last of a six-phase protocol that began in June, long before anyone descended upon the Walt Disney World Resort campus. Beginning in Phase 4, players had the option of wearing a “proximity alarm” that alerted them if within six feet another person wearing an alarm for more than five seconds. Players were also allowed to wear a smart ring to track some of their vital signs and help with early detection of COVID-19.

Given the lengths to which the NBA has gone to guard against the infiltration of COVID-19 into its bubble, Silver has created a blueprint for other sports leagues to follow for the foreseeable future, a guiding North Star that illustrates how to effectively create an environment in which the biggest threat to player safety is the recent offensive onslaught of Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Warren.

Now, anyone care to help me find any stars Silver may have missed out on manipulating in the Florida sky? We could use something to wish upon so his presence, or at least his influence, could reach the White House.

3 responses to “NBA: Orlando Bubble Protocol Spits In Face Of Clownish National Leadership

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