Milwaukee Bucks: Pat Connaughton talks NBA’s return, the ‘bubble’, and more

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 30: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 30: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Appearing on the most recent episode of The JJ Redick podcast, Milwaukee Bucks wing Pat Connaughton discussed the NBA’s return-to-play format and what it all entails.

While the Milwaukee Bucks have been away from the basketball court, Pat Connaughton has been a solid media presence throughout this unexpected hiatus.

Whether it’s been hosting his radiothon or appearing in a number of interviews with various national and local outlets, the 27-year-old Connaughton has certainly kept busy during all of this down time. Of course, that won’t be the case for much longer with the NBA’s plans to restart the 2019-20 season coming next month.

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As the NBA slowly ramps up into resuming business, the Notre Dame product appeared on the latest episode of The J.J. Redick Podcast with Tommy Alter over at The Ringer to go over all sorts of topics related to the NBA’s return-to-play plan, the ‘bubble’ concept at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and much more.

Leading it all off, Connaughton expressed his thoughts on why he believed the NBA had no choice but to restart the season as they will in Orlando next month:

"“I think I have a unique opinion a little bit. I’m pretty into business in general and the way the NBA business works kind of fascinates me. So when I take my biases out of it, I thought it was important that we came back to some degree. I’m saying that obviously with the understanding that health precautions and safety and all of that is the number one priority, but I didn’t think it made sense to just cancel the season with the unknown of what can happen next year. You know, the things that we’re hearing like there may not be fans next year. And with fans making up nearly 40 percent of the revenue, why would you cancel the season when you can get something out of it and crown a champion and at least give some hope?”"

When followed up with whether the top teams, like the Bucks have been throughout the year, will have any built-in advantages, Connaughton was very pessimistic on there being any in place when play restarts:

"“I was chatting with some guys on the team and, actually, a few of the owners during our march on Sunday and they’ve heard a lot about ‘Hey, there might be an asterisk to this win because there’s no fans or whatever.’ And they’re coming back on the other side and saying that it’s going to be that much harder because the 1-seed, which was us at the time, has no home-court advantage. There’s no home-court advantage, no fans, no anything. So they seemed to be putting some pressure in trying to find a solution to that. The only idea I ever heard was pumping in crowd noise at certain times. I don’t know how much of an effect that would have, so I actually think there won’t be any advantage to the seeding. I think it’s going to be tough luck, unfortunately.”"

Redick quickly turned his attention towards the ‘bubble’ or campus environment, as the NBA has looked to call it, that all players will be housed in within Disney World and the growing logistics that will be in place for all 22 NBA teams.

In this part of the discussion, Connaughton pondered the thought of whether players can attend other games going on throughout the resort and laid out the fascinating idea of having players sitting courtside before detailing this scenario:

"“Is there a way for guys to go to go to games? If I’m not playing on one day, can I go to a game? Can I sit courtside? That would be kind of cool for fans to see if you got Russell Westbrook courtside at the Oklahoma City Thunder playoff game. I think there will be some unique situations that fans, and quite frankly myself, would love to see and how guys react and all that sort of thing if you got players sitting courtside as opposed to fans, owners, whatever.”"

Quickly going beyond the entertainment factor, Connaughton brought all sorts of questions that remain unanswered as to how life will be for all players preparing for and living within the resort for this unique experience:

"“How are you going to pack for it? Like, when have you ever had to pack for a road trip longer than 10 days? Done laundry on the road? Just simple stuff. Like daily life things. Are we going to have to eat at those same restaurants within the thing every single day for eight-to-12 weeks? Or will team chefs be able to come down and cook different stuff? Can you have yoga and spin classes or something for guys on off-days? I know there will be team lifts and stuff like that. But there are a lot of hours in a day if you’re in one place for seven to eight to 12 weeks at one time.”"

While Connaughton, Redick and players from all 22 NBA teams embark to find answers to those questions, the return of basketball certainly seems small in light of the social unrest that exists at this time. To Connaughton, he believes the return of the NBA can have a huge role in all different walks of life finding some common ground, given the league’s platform and desire to shed light on these issues:

"“Based off of talking with my teammates and my own opinions on it, there are more important things than basketball at this moment in time within our country. But I also think that basketball and sports brings about hope, it brings unity. It has diversity within it and one of the conversations I had with teammates was that it will be nice to be in a place with your teammates again fighting towards one common goal. No matter what race, ethnicity, diversity, skin color you are…So my hope is with sports coming back, that can at least bring some hope so that the rest of the world can take after what we do within the NBA because of how great Adam (Silver) has been about allowing guys to use it as a platform to speak out on social issues like this.”"

Next. Meet the 1970s Bucks All-Decade Team. dark

Come back Wednesday afternoon for more excerpts of Connaughton’s conversation with Redick, which delves more into the Connaughton’s choice between picking basketball over baseball.