With the COVID-19 pandemic changing how we do, well, everything, the NBA was forced to come up with a new game plan to finish their 2019-2020 season.
The solution—the much-discussed bubble—saw some 300 players from the league's top 22 teams sequestered in one of three Disney World resorts for up to three months as they strive to be crowned champions of this long, strange season.
But what about the those on the outside feeling as if their bubble had burst? With their partners locked down in Florida, scores of women have been left to navigate work responsibilities, bedtime routines, middle-of-the-night feedings, meal prep and, in some cases, even childbirth without their teammate. And now they're speaking exclusively with E! News about that new normal. These are their basketball diaries.
Admittedly, Nina Westbrook wasn't instantly game.
When she learned husband Russell Westbrook and the rest of his Houston Rockets teammates would have the chance to finish off their quest for an NBA championship in Orlando, "I was happy that the guys were going to be able to get back to their outlet," she told E! News in an Aug. 11 interview.
"Well, honestly it was not exciting to me," she conceded of facing the prospect of up to three months playing zone with their kids without her husband around. "I did not think that it sounded appealing whatsoever."
Which was understandable, considering her roster of responsibilities includes tending to her clients as a licensed marriage and family therapist, running her newly launched clothing line Minibrook, managing the charity work involved with her and Russell's Why Not? Foundation and the National Basketball Wives Association, and raising 3-year-old son Noah Westbrook and 21-month-old twin daughters Jordyn Westbrook and Skye Westbrook.
Her issues, the 31-year-old continued, were "mainly just because my kids are so young and the prospect of their dad being gone for so long, like that's a huge chunk of their lives when you really put things into perspective." But more than a decade into their romance—the two meeting when they were standouts on the men's and women's squads at UCLA—she knows her partner. And as much as the nine-time NBA All-Star loves his home team, she realizes the 6-foot-3 athlete, 31, belongs on the court. "He was definitely happy and excited to go back to playing basketball with his teammates and so I was happy," she said. "It was a bittersweet moment."
Thankfully, she came up with some winning strategies to get by.