Aussie opens up on life inside the gruelling NBA bubble

Whoever wins this year’s NBA championship is going to create history as the mentally toughest team to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy.

That’s the opinion of respected Australian physio Phil Coles, who has been locked in the NBA bubble in Disney World in Orlando with the championship contending Boston Celtics for the past two months.

The Celtics are a legitimate chance of winning this year’s NBA championship, locked at 2-all in a tense Eastern Conference semi-final series against defending champions, the Toronto Raptors.

Coles has worked alongside some of the world’s best athletes and coaches at clubs from Liverpool in the English Premier League, NBA powerhouse the San Antonio Spurs as well as in the NRL.

He has seen the sacrifices and grind in the bubble after joining the Celtics this season and is convinced this year’s championships will be like no other.

“Because the challenge to win the title is just as difficult, if not more difficult than ever before,” Coles told the NCA Newswire from Orlando.

“It is definitely a unique experience living in the bubble because most of us are away from our families and are locked and focused on one goal.

“It will be a fantastic achievement for whatever team goes on to win the championship given the demands.

“The fact that all the teams are spending so much time together, means that the teams are more united because they are literally living together.

“But there are also challenges of being in the one place for such a long time.”

Respected Australian trainer Phil Coles in Boston with his family after picking up a job with the Celtics.Source:Supplied

One of the biggest challenges or players and staff, is being away from family.

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone called it “criminal” that NBA policy didn’t allow coaches to bring family into the bubble.

Coles said he desperately missed his wife Karli and two sons, Cooper and Max, who are back in Boston.

“Because it is depressing, mate,” he says frankly.

“I miss my family so much, so I’d prefer not to look at how long we’ve been here.”

Boston Celtics small forward Jaylen Brown is passionate about racial injustice in the United States. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Being locked in a bubble, Cole, who has worked with some of the world’s best athletes throughout his career including NBA stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, has seen Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum close up.

He has such a high opinion of the young pair, he thinks they could be the best he’s worked with.

“I think both Jaylen and Jayson are incredibly talented and driven,” he says.

“When you combine those two things, they have got that ability to become superstars of the game.

“And it would be something special for them if they can do it together.

“Watching from afar they have improved every season, but this year has been a breakout season for both of them.

“Tatum probably gets more publicity, and rightly so because he could be one of the superstars of the NBA by the completion of this playoffs.

“But I think Brown is right up there as well.”

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics is destined for big things, according to the team’s Australian Head of Physical Performance, Phil Coles. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Cole has also had his eyes opened to the significant of the Black Live Matter movement, which has been ever-present in this NBA campaign.

He said it was clear just how much the push for change mattered to the players, and how much winning an NBA Championship would mean in the current environment

“When you work and now live with players like Jaylen every day, you get to see them as people, and you see how important this situation is to them,” Coles said.

“That gives me a greater appreciation of why things need to change and improve. As driven as they are to succeed in their career and the NBA, it doesn’t mean as much as the bigger picture of being a part of a more just society and creating a better environment for their family.It is about people.

“It makes me proud to be a part of that because it makes me think not only are the players managing the bubble and this global pandemic, but they are also attacking the social justice issues in the country.”

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