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Covering the weirdest basketball season ever from inside the NBA bubble

July 31, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

ORLANDO, FL - JULY 28: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers ices and talks to the media during practice as part of the NBA Restart 2020 on July 28, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Shortly before Joe Vardon started covering last year's NBA playoffs, the sports journalist took his family to Walt Disney World.

New York (CNN Business)Shortly before Joe Vardon started covering last year's NBA playoffs, the sports journalist took his family to Walt Disney World.

Vardon, a senior writer for The Athletic, the subscription-based sports website, arrived on July 12 to cover the end of the NBA season, which was suspended earlier this year after a player tested positive for coronavirus.

This is life for a reporter inside the "NBA Bubble," the quarantine zone inside Disney World designed to keep NBA players and staff from getting sick during what remains of the season and the following playoffs.

Players, staff, and reporters like Vardon are under the watchful eye of the NBA, which has instituted firm rules to keep everyone safe.

For the NBA reporters on the inside, the bubble comes with challenges both professional and emotional.

"There's a 'Groundhog Day' element to it," Mannix, who arrived on July 12, told CNN Business.

News outlets shell out about $550 a day for each reporter they send to the bubble, which covers the hotel, food and transportation.

Despite having different restrictions than reporters who are closer to the players, announcers calling the games in the bubble also face a unique set of challenges in the age of coronavirus.

Kevin Harlan, a longtime NBA announcer for Turner Sports, told CNN Business that the league and Turner are "doing everything they can to make this sound like a regular broadcast," but it's hard since there won't be any fans in attendance.

"It's not only the happiest place on earth, it's the safest place on earth," Lisa Salters, ESPN's sideline reporter, told CNN Business about the bubble.

For Marc Stein, a New York Times sports reporter, his favorite part of his bubble experience was being back in the gym, hearing the sounds of sneakers squeak, and players cheer from the benches.

The return of the NBA season allows players to "keep the spotlight on social justice every day. "

"I think this is an extremely great platform for the players to keep the social justice message alive at a time when it might be starting to quiet a little bit," Spears said.

Yes, going out into the world is dangerous right now, but this is a story that has to be covered," Vardon said.

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