Alaskans spend summer inside pro basketball bubbles

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 5:49 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The National Basketball Association and Women’s National Basketball Association solution to play during a pandemic was a bubble. The WNBA is playing on the IMG campus in Bradenton, Florida while the NBA is playing at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The bubble is meant to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 throughout the leagues because everyone inside is monitored closely, tested and living within a small restricted area.

“I’ve been getting a lot of texts and calls from people back home in Alaska and Oregon,” Ruthy Hebard said. “It’s been nice to see people watching, and rooting for me and the WNBA as a whole.”

Fairbanks' Hebard just wrapped up her first full season of professional basketball inside the WNBA bubble playing for the Chicago Sky helping the Windy City squad to a first-round playoff appearance before losing to the Connecticut Sun. The Sky drafted Hebard in the first round of the league’s 2020 draft out of Oregon University.

Inside the NBA bubble, Taylor Vincek has been capturing the Denver Nuggets run to a Western Conference Finals. Vincek, originally from Anchorage, works for the Nuggets as a photographer during the regular season and was the only member of the Colorado media allowed inside to follow the Nuggets from the start.

“It was a crazy opportunity never really thought that would happen,” Vincek said describing the NBA bubble. “There are 22 of us [content creators] here and five of us are women so it’s been really neat to get to know these girls who are working on NBA content side.”

Despite working at Disney World, Vincek said she spends all of her time at the basketball court. Vincek will remain inside the bubble as the Nuggets takes on the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA western conference finals on Friday. The New Orleans Pelicans also spent a brief stint at the bubble and were led by general manager Trajan Langdon, an alumnus of East Anchorage High School.

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