Family reunion: NBA players begin seeing guests in bubble

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Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) scores ahead of Boston Celtics' Brad Wanamaker (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball conference semifinal playoff game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Fred VanVleet hadn't seen his family in more than two months.

With his Toronto Raptors coming off a bad playoff loss, their long-awaited reunion was a great way to cheer him up.

Players began reuniting with family members in the bubble Monday, giving them a feeling of home during a marathon road trip.

“I think last time I saw them was Father’s Day, so it’s been a while. But it will be good to see everybody and right on time after getting our butts kicked yesterday. So, that’ll kind of take my mind off it a little bit today and I’ll get prepared and get locked in for the game tomorrow,” VanVleet said after practice, before meeting up with his family.

NBA teams began arriving at Disney on July 7 but the Raptors have been on the road even longer. They came to Florida on June 22 to begin practicing at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, rather than gather back in Toronto and have players who had been in the U.S. forced to quarantine.

The Raptors had one of the low moments of the trip Sunday when the Boston Celtics beat them 112-94 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Families began arriving in the Orlando area last week so they could quarantine before being permitted in the bubble. Once inside, they will be subjected to the same daily coronavirus testing and mandatory wearing of masks as players and staff.

They're experiencing firsthand what their loved ones have been enduring, so it’s not a typical Disney World vacation for family members. They won’t be permitted to leave campus, so that could make it tough on children, who may get bored inside the bubble.