CHICAGO (CBS) — Social distancing, contact tracing, quarantine; terms we never used regularly until this year. Here’s another new saying: the bubble. It allowed professional athletes to play games and dazzle us from our couches.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory talked to one pro who lived in the bubble and recently returned home to the northern suburbs to rest up.
“The whole word bubble was just like, ‘What does that mean?’” said Lincolnwood native Jewell Loyd, who helped lead the Seattle Storm to the WNBA title last month.
In the dark for three months, Loyd is out of isolation and back playing on the outdoor basketball courts that were named in her honor at Prosel Park in Lincolnwood.
“It’s been weird being at home and feeling like I have nothing to do,” she said,
Back home for the offseason, she had time to humor us with some hoops, and open up about her strangest season yet with the WNBA.
“The best way I can explain it is it was like summer camp,” Loyd said.
The No. 1 pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Loyd hunkered down with her Seattle Storm teammates and opponents, referees and coaches in the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida, from July to October.
“It literally was testing, practice; or testing, game, go back to the hotel,” she said.
Some days in the bubble were fun, but many were no walk in the park. Rest between games was shorter than normal. But Loyd and her teammates were inspired by who they were playing for: Breonna Taylor, the Kentucky woman killed in a botched police raid in March.
“The days that we didn’t want to practice, didn’t want to play, you go in the locker room, you see her name,” Loyd said.
The WNBA dedicated this season to Taylor and the “Say Her Name” campaign, and Storm players wore her name on their jerseys.
“Knowing that was our why made it a little easier to be down there, and understand that we’re here for a bigger purpose,” Loyd said.
It made the Storm’s championship victory even sweeter, but Loyd said every team walked away with an important win.
“For us, we were pretty much in school,” she said.
The league set up weekly Zoom calls about police reform, voter suppression, and other social justice issues.
“Yes, we can play basketball. Yes, we can understand that. But we also need to understand what’s going on outside the bubble so we can stay informed and educate our followers,” Loyd said.
Loyd said she’ll also never forget this season because it was the first one without her mentor, Lakers Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
On the horizon for the Niles West High School graduate: a possible trip to the Olympics. The 2020 summer games in Tokyo were postponed until July 2021 due to the pandemic.
Loyd chose to skip playing overseas this offseason so she could relax at home after the bubble. That free time gives her the opportunity to finish college. The former Notre Dame student is now enrolled at DePaul University.