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.
When Elle Leonard learned that the NBA bubble would be separating her from husband Meyers Leonard for, at minimum, seven weeks, she was understandably bummed at the prospect of months without her college sweetheart. But there was another member of the family she worried would take the Miami Heat center's absence even harder.
"I think the dog really misses him," she confessed to E! News of their husky Koko. "Like she's been very moody since he left and I definitely have noticed, that is one of the biggest things." To cope with these, uh, dog(less) days of summer, she continued of Meyers, 28. "When he FaceTimes me, there's always a request to see the pup."
But while man's best friend is getting her fix quite often, the 7-foot-1 veteran also chooses to converse with the missus here and there throughout the day. "If you were to look at my FaceTime calls with this dude, you would think like he has nothing else to do," she admitted. "It's honestly sweet." Some of their chats are business-related, the duo's LEVEL Foods line of bars born in 2018 from Meyers' need to find a snack option that wouldn't wreck his anti-inflammatory diet.
But the rest? Well, having been inseparable since meeting their freshman year at the University of Illinois, they're just really not huge fans of being apart. "There has been no point in our entire relationship where it's just two months we haven't seen one another," 28-year-old Elle explained of the past decade with her guy. "I really like having him around." A true teddy bear of a man, despite his 7-foot-3 wingspan and penchant for rejecting shots at the rim, "He's so sweet," she raved of the 2012 NBA draft lottery pick. "The most lovable guy. Even though he's a giant, he's just one of those people you want to, like, grab and hold."
Until that moment comes—sometime between late August, should the Heat get bounced in the first round by the Indiana Pacers, and mid-October, should they dribble their way to the finals—she's adjusting to this new normal. In a phone interview earlier this month, she told E! News all about her game plan.