Michael Greenman hopes he’s in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Linwood resident is in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, working as a team attendant as basketball resumes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greenman, 25, has done everything from set up and clean locker rooms to rebound warm-up shots for NBA standouts Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I hope we don’t have to do anything like this again,” Greenman said in a phone interview from Orlando last week. “But being able to watch these guys play up close and personal is really, really cool. To say I was here and was a part of this is just awesome.”
The bubble was the NBA’s solution to playing games in the coronavirus pandemic — it’s an isolation zone with frequent testing and many rules aimed at keeping everyone inside virus-free.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ status as NBA contenders — already in doubt — took another blow Thursday.
Greenman wears gloves and a mask everywhere he goes in the bubble. He undergoes daily nasal and saliva tests. A credential he wears around his neck beeps when he’s within 6 feet of another person.
He takes his temperature and fills out a daily health report.
“It’s as safe as it can be,” he said. “They’re doing all the right things.”
The NBA halted its season in March because of COVID-19. Twenty-two teams resumed the season in the Orlando bubble last month.
Greenman was a standout point guard at both St. Augustine Prep in Richland and Williams College in Massachusetts. After graduating from Williams in 2018, Greenman worked as a graduate assistant for the Northwestern University men’s basketball team from 2018-20, earning a master’s degree in sports administration.
His goal is to land a job in the NBA either as a video coordinator or an assistant coach. A fellow Northwestern graduate assistant asked him if he’d be interested in working as a team attendant in Orlando.
The duties of a team attendant inside the bubble are many. Greenman is assigned to a different team and usually works one game each day.
A typical day sees Greenman take a bus from his hotel to one of three game sites. He arrives three hours before tipoff. Along the way, he gets a brief view of the Magic Kingdom.
No one in the bubble is allowed in the park.
Once the game starts, he serves as a gofer, running errands for a team’s training staff or sometimes, when he’s stationed underneath a basket, mopping sweat off the court when play heads down the other end.
The 76ers gave up 46 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s 127-121 loss to the In…
Greenman began preparing for bubble life in Linwood, quarantining for seven days before heading to Disney.
He flew to Florida on July 12 and was greeted at the airport by an NBA driver, who took him to a hotel outside the bubble where he stayed for two days. Greenman had to test negative twice before even being allowed to enter the bubble.
Once inside, Greenman quarantined inside his room at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort for six days.
He couldn’t leave his hotel room except for about 30 seconds each day to get tested. His meals were delivered. He had to have seven straight negative daily tests before he could work and move around the bubble.
Greenman spent much of the quarantine playing video games on his Xbox.
Monday night, the Philadelphia Phillies were set to resume their COVID-interrupted season wi…
“The first three or four days were kind of nice,” he said. “It was relaxed, no worries. The last couple days is where it got to ‘I need to get out of here.’”
The first couple of tests he took were nerve-wracking.
“You don’t want to be that guy who shows up to the bubble and tests positive,” he said.
Life in the bubble isn’t a vacation, but it isn’t hard labor, either. Meals are provided, and Greenman says the food is fine.
There’s a hotel pool for swimming. Activities such as fishing and bike riding are available.
“It’s not like when you’re not working, you just have to sit in your hotel room,” Greenman said. He’s not allowed to attend a game he’s not working.
Greenman isn’t the only person with local basketball connections in the bubble.
Frank Vogel, a 1991 Wildwood High School graduate, is the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, a top contender.
“The NBA has done a great job of creating an environment that can house a lot of teams,” Vogel told reporters when the Lakers arrived last month. “We’ve got the courts necessary. We’ve got the weight rooms, training rooms, meeting rooms, (and) hotel accommodations.”
Greenman doesn’t see much of the players away from the court. He is good friends with Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson, who played at Williams with Greenman.
The two have had daily conversations in the bubble. But most of Greenman’s limited interactions with players come while rebounding for them.
“There’s not one player who didn’t come up and give you a little fist bump,” he said. “You’re not allowed to shake hands or anything.”
Once the games start, Greenman says, life in the bubble seems normal, and there is a thrill to being that close to NBA action.
“Being able to hear the conversations between players and refs,” he said. “Seeing exactly what the coaches are saying, being able to hear that while you’re just working is something that’s been fun and really, really cool for me.”