Former Williams basketball players Hardy, Greenman reflect on life in the NBA Bubble in Orlando
So far, so good for the NBA's bubble at the Walt Disney complex in Orlando, Fla. Former Williams College basketball player Will Hardy gives it two thumbs up.
"It's been great," said Hardy, who is an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. "I think coming in, no one really knew what to expect. The NBA has done a great job of making us feel safe. They really covered all the details. The basketball part has been great to get back on the floor. Getting back on the practice floor when we first got here was the first sense of normalcy any of these guys, or us, have felt in a long time."
Hardy is one of a three-headed Williams alumni group inside the bubble. Everyone knows of former Eph Duncan Robinson's heroics with the Miami Heat. Along with Robinson and Hardy, former Williams player Mike Greenman — a former teammate and freshman roommate of Robinson's — is working with NBA operations as games transition from one to the next.
"It's funny, just because a lot of people wouldn't expect three guys in the NBA bubble would be from Williams College," said Greenman, who graduated from Williams in 2018 and recently received a Masters Degree from Northwestern, where he spent time on the bench for head coach Chris Collins. "It's also really cool to know that there are some people out there who are all going after the same thing and we're all close to each other inside this bubble, which we hope will be a once in a lifetime situation."
Hardy, who graduated from Williams in 2010, is in his 10th year with San Antonio, and his fourth as an assistant coach. He has been the head coach of the Spurs' summer league teams in Utah and in Las Vegas.
"I think the product has been great," Hardy said of the games inside the bubble. "I think the players have all been playing really well and hard. It's a testament to the work that was done in the weeks building up to getting back on the floor. Guys busted their ass to get back in shape.
"The games have been really physical, and guys are playing really hard."
Hardy said that that there really isn't a typical day for the Spurs and the other teams in Orlando, because their days all depend on if and when a team plays.
For example, the Spurs beat Houston 123-105 on Tuesday afternoon, to keep their potential playoff hopes alive. Hardy spoke with The Eagle shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, in a very small window before the Spurs and Rockets tipped off at 2.
"There's been a lot of afternoon games, which is not regular for the NBA. Usually we're getting up and having a coaches meeting before we see the team," Hardy said. "We're either heading over to the gym for a practice or we're heading over to the gym for a game. After the game, it's decompress a little bit, get some food with your team, watch the film and then move into the next day — which could be recovery for your team or practice.
"It's sort of like being at basketball camp/AAU tournament in some ways, because no one's going back to their house and nobody's spending time with their families. It's 24-7 basketball."
Hardy's wife Spencer and one year old daughter Elliott are in San Antonio, and the new dad has been doing a lot of FaceTiming with them.
"Every day," he said. "I'm on FaceTime with my wife and [daughter] three or four times a day, just trying to keep in touch, obviously with some family and friends as well. I'm definitely spending a decent amount of FaceTime and on the phone."
For Greenman, who graduated from Williams in 2018, this is a change from what he was doing for the Northwestern men's basketball team and coach Chris Collins. There, he helped supervise the undergraduate student managers along with helping with scouting and practice preparation.
He said the NBA was looking for people who had experience working with teams to help fill spots in Orlando. One of the graduate assistant's at Northwestern guided Greenman in the right direction, and now he's in Florida.
And what is it that Greenman does?
"My job basically is to work one game a day, five or six days a week. You get there three hours before the game, helping out the equipment guys setting up the locker room," he said. "About two hours before the game, when the [players] are allowed to start shooting, we go out there and help the coaches rebound, help them work out. Each team does it a little bit differently, but for the most part, you have one or two guys on the court for 20 to 30 minutes before the game. They get their workout done and then the next wave of two or three guys come out on the court."
Once the game starts, you might see Greenman helping make certain that the courts are dry and he is also helping teams with what they might need.
Much of Hardy's time is taken up with breaking down tape of previous and future games, game planning with head coach Gregg Popovich and the staff, and practicing with the team. But for Greenman, his team gets the call once a day, so his life inside the bubble is a little — no — make that a lot different.
"I've very much enjoyed" time in the bubble, the former Eph point guard said. "There are times when it gets boring. When you're working, you have a pretty solid, good day of work. I'm outside in really nice weather. You get tested every single day and everyone's getting tested around you. The feeling of being around people is not as scary or nerve-wracking as it might be in a place where you don't know everyone or you don't know what those people have been doing.
"That piece of mind, being able to hang out with three or four friends, sit down and eat lunch outside, and not have too much of a worry about anything has been really, really nice."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.