Bubbleball: Inside the NBA’s Fight to Save a Season

Abrams. May 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781419755538. $28. SPORTS
In March 2020, the NBA abruptly paused the 2019–20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That July, in an effort to finish the season and crown a champion, the NBA created a “bubble” to keep players and coaches from being exposed to the virus. Washington Post basketball reporter Golliver, with this debut book, chronicles the 93 days he spent in the NBA bubble, including details of the league’s security procedures and his time in quarantine. Golliver also reports on the experiences of players and team staff, including Rudy Gobert testing positive for the virus, and the death of Karl-Anthony Towns’s mother. As Golliver adeptly tells, players had to not only overcome being isolated from their family and friends, but also meet the grueling physical challenge of performing on the court. His descriptions of games sometimes fall flat in comparison with players’ real-life concerns, like the pandemic, protests against police violence, and the Milwaukee Bucks’ boycotting a playoff game to bring awareness to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake.
VERDICT Beyond basketball, this book is an important cultural artifact of the impacts of COVID-19 on American life, as well as the interconnection of social justice and sports. An instant classic.
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