This whole NBA bubble experiment is extremely weird and will certainly take some getting used to. Twitter accounts like @NBABubbleLife have done a great job documenting the players’ experience in Orlando thus far, generally showcasing the lighter side of off-court activities like JJ Redick and Meyers Leonardchugging beers, Montrezl Harrelltalking trash while reeling in a fish and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall riding a bike around the Disney campus.
There’s one thing about the bubble, however, that is perhaps the most intriguing and hilarious of all: The NBA snitch line. Of course, that’s not its real name, but essentially players are encouraged to anonymously report violations of bubble protocol by using a telephone hotline. The hotline has already been blowing up, with some players already receiving warnings about violations, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Fans are having a lot of fun trying to figure out who would narc on their fellow players (Thunder guard Chris Paul has received countless accusations), and on Wednesday even Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers got in on the fun. When asked about the anonymous hotline, Rivers jokingly told reporters that he had already used it to report Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, and that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was next on the list.
“I turned in LeBron yesterday. I’m turning in Pop today. I’m trying to turn all these guys in. I think it’s phenomenal,” Rivers said. “We’re going to be the only team left when this is done.”
Leave it to Rivers to always lighten up a press conference, but he does bring up a point that many have already mentioned. Players might have more incentive to report superstars of potential opponents than their teammates or benchwarmers, so people like James very well could be targets. We have to assume that the NBA has an evidence-based process for dealing with reported violations, and won’t simply rely on the word of an anonymous tipster.
Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who will not participate in the bubble after contracting COVID-19, recently suggested that players avoid calling the “snitch hotline,” but there have already been two known violations of the bubble protocol. Sacramento Kings forward Richaun Holmes apologized for accidentally crossing the NBA campus line to pick up a food delivery, while Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo also broke protocol by leaving his room during the initial required 48-hour quarantine. Both players must now quarantine for 10 days due to their violations.
Things are going to continue to get weird in the Disney bubble, and it’s a good bet that the snitch line will continue to be active.