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SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell saw it coming.
When it was announced the NBA would have an anonymous tipline for players to report players breaking bubble violations, the Jazz All-Star guard tweeted: “Oh they snitchin snitchin.”
The snitch line, as players and fans call the hotline, has reportedly been in use. On Tuesday, reports of the first snitches came out of the NBA bubble in Orlando.
The Athletic reported that “multiple tips have been placed into the NBA’s anonymous hotline to report protocol violations on campus.” Players have received warnings, according to the report.
“I think it's sort of petty,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said about the tipsters. “At the same time, you want to make sure that people will respect the rules.”
The Great NBA Bubble Experiment is just now a week old; players have already broken those rules.
Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes is in a lengthy quarantine after he said he "accidentally crossed the NBA’s campus line" at the Walt Disney World Resort to pick up delivery food.
"I apologize for my actions and look forward to rejoining my teammates for our playoff push," said Holmes in a statement. Holmes will be out of quarantine early next week.
That wasn't an isolated incident.
Houston Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo is also in an extended quarantine period after he unintentionally broke rules by leaving his room during the initial quarantine period soon after the Rockets arrived on the campus, according to an ESPN report.
So with two players already in breach of the rules, it might not be the biggest surprise the tips are starting to come in.
Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19 and suffered symptoms of the disease, including the loss of smell (a sense that hasn't fully returned). So if there’s someone who understands the magnitude of the coronavirus, it would be him. But even he’s not sold on the effectiveness of the tipline.
“I don't think the line will really help at that point,” Gobert said. “It's more about respecting each other. ... I think everybody's pretty much educated about the virus at this point and it's more about respect.”
The NBA has set up rules — including wearing masks, social distancing when possible, and most importantly, staying on campus — to help ensure an outbreak doesn’t occur in the bubble and to allow the NBA to finish the season. If things go to plan, two teams will be in the bubble for up to three months. That’s a long time to be confined to a location, no matter how luxurious it is.
“You want to make sure you do socialize and do all those things,” Gobert said, “but by still respecting each other's space. And try to wear the mask inside, especially when it's crowded.”
If they don’t, well, there are some people willing to snitch.