‘A lot of Money Was Lost’: Carmelo Anthony Says Gambling Was All Good In The NBA Bubble During COVID

When COVID hit and the NBA decided to play in the Disney Bubble once played resumed, fans were cut off from the situation. Couldn’t even attend NBA games. There were cardboard figures of fans and fake crowd noise, which to this day seems surreal.  

“The crowd noise was crazy,” said former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, a 10-time All-Star, on his podcast,“7pm In Brooklyn.”

The average fan to this day wonders about the rumors and stories concerning  the dynamics of the Bubble and what was going on as the entire league, media and some family members were trapped inside their own kingdom as to avoid the spread of what at the time was being promoted as a deadly pandemic. 

What Was Going On Inside NBA Bubble? 

Melo and Kemba Walker got together on Melo and The Kid Mero’s podcast, “7pm In Brooklyn,” and gave us all some insight into the dynamic within Disney’s Bubble. 

“It was weird for everybody,” Walker, who recently retired after a great NBA career, said. 

From the digital fans to the fake crowd noise, Walker and Melo agreed that it was definitely a different experience, but also a familiar atmosphere. Both Melo and Walker claim the NBA Bubble was “like college.”  

“We all going to one spot, then you have your old teammates and old coaches you haven’t seen in a long time. Like, we can play a game and then go chill with them,” Walker interjected. “We chillin’. That’s how it was. We even had a players only floor.”

Melo also suggested that there was some gambling going on. 

“A lot of relationships was built in the bubble,” he said. “A lot of money was lost too. It was just a mosh pit of everybody on campus. It was almost like camp in a sense. … I see you, we walk by each other every single day. We eat in the same restaurants. We see everybody. When it’s time to go play, you go play.” 

A Chance To Earn Respect From Peers

Melo says the dynamic of the Bubble, which included not being allowed to leave the premises, ensured that all players watched every game, which is not something that usually happens in a non-pandemic situation. It was an opportunity to develop a deeper respect from your opponents. 

Said Melo: “What you didn’t want to be was the n-gg who ain’t do nothing in the Bubble. Ain’t hoop in the Bubble ’cause everybody’s watching every game.That’s where you get the players’ respect. The peer-to-peer respect. 

“’Cause they get a chance to watch you. See what type of time you on. And now you’re the big man on campus coming back from the hotels and resorts. … Everybody is talking about your game.”

It was also an opportunity for unheralded players to elevate their standing within the league. One player who fit the bill was then-Indiana Pacers forward TJ Warren. Although he had already established himself as a solid NBA scorer, he went crazy in Orlando, scoring 53 points in his first game and ending his stint averaging 31 points per game. 

The Story Lines Coming Out The Bubble

There were more salacious stories and rumors that emerged from the Bubble, such as possible hookups between unnamed reporters and players, and organized fistfights and wrestling matches. 

But Melo and Walker gave us some insight into a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and despite all of the negatives of the Bubble and the ramifications it had on fans and the atmosphere, there was value found in the experience. The competition was more personal. It was less of a show.   

“Nobody in the arena,” Melo said. “It’s just you and us. You can’t run. You can’t hide. There’s no fans. It’s just let get too it.”

Related: Carmelo Anthony Was Just 2 When He Lost His Dad To Cancer And Has Been on Journey of Discovery Ever Since: “My Dad Was a Young Lord”

Melo says the trash-talking came through loud and clear, because without fans. the stuff you usually wouldn’t hear was reverberating throughout the entire empty stadium as dancing cardboard heads of Lil Wayne bounced across your TV screen at home. 

Melo said the intimate atmosphere ignited “real beef” between teams in the bubble. 

“The Bubble was lit. That was a great experience, but I wouldn’t do it again,” Melo said. 

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