Bubble Dribble: Jared Dudley Q&A on Lakers lives off the court

Editor’s note: This is the Thursday July 30 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter from reporter Kyle Goon, who is among the few reporters with a credential inside the NBA bubble. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

Of the many things that have changed in 2020, pregame locker room access is a small, small loss. And yet veteran Jared Dudley has lost a stage.

The 35-year-old San Diego native is the king of these sessions. When Dudley walks into room, a crowd of reporters gathers around him: to talk ball, to talk about off-court drama elsewhere in the league, just to shoot the breeze. Dudley has a famous open door policy to media, and there’s very little he won’t tell you at least a little bit about.

In the bubble, locker rooms are not what they were, and they certainly aren’t open to the media due to social distancing guidelines. So when I caught up with Jared on Wednesday afternoon after practice, I thought there was probably no one better to give an inside look at what the Lakers are doing off the court.

When I walked into the gym, Jared raised a finger and beckoned me over. Good to know some things never change.

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation to get the tea on the Lakers in the bubble:

First off, everyone’s talking about this Madden tournament you guys are doing. How is the Madden Tournament going?

Jared Dudley: “The Madden tournament’s getting very intense. We are Week 8. LeBron’s been the most surprising because we don’t play Madden on the regular. We used to play when we was younger. And he figured out a little glitch in the running game, of running the same play over and over. He’s leading the league in rushing with 300 yards a game. It’s an I-form stretch. Pretty bad in that one. And lot of trash talking been going on. Markieff, Dion and Quinn Cook are the guys who play in leagues regular. Dion has been the most disappointing, where he just had a bad loss to AD. Rookie (Talen Horton-Tucker) has not won a game. I’m in middle of the pack, ascending, going in the right direction for the playoffs. So it’s been intense. We play every off day. We’re waiting for 21 to come out to switch to 21. Any day. EA’s gotta send to the bubble EARLY. They gotta get it EARLY.”

You guys have gone golfing. Who is the best golfer?

JD: “Mike (Penberthy). Mike P is the best golfer. But player-wise, J.R. (What is his handicap?) That’s a good question. You’ll have to ask him that. But by far, I mean top three golfers are Mike P, J-Kidd (Jason Kidd) and J.R. I know Kuz and AD played the other day, but they’re just average. They’re below average but it’s all good. They say J.R. is a great driver, has a chip game, putting game, but he’s a risk-taker. Kinda like in basketball — you know, he is what he is! And then he’ll drive, and then bogey on the back nine. You know on the back nine, where you gotta stay poised, and sometimes he gets carried away. But that’s how it is when you’re a couple drinks in, you’re having a good time. And sometimes you get a little carried away.”

Who is the ringleader for team activities?

JD: “It’s different each time. Bron. Myself. Markieff (Morris) is the commissioner of the Madden league. Rob Pelinka will get us together — you know, we’re going bowling tonight. But you know, there ain’t that many activities. Like, when the Verzuz was going on with 2 Chainz and Rick Ross and DMX, things like that, it was like, ‘Hey, let’s get together and watch Verzuz.’ We’re trying, man. If not, you’ll just be in your room 24-7. We’re trying. It’s like we’re at a wilderness retreat.”

Who has the most tricked-out room?

JD: “Dion’s got a great vibe to his room, different hookah. Bron has OCD, where it’s super clean and very nice and spacious. Kuz has the night cap of the stars and all that. It depends on what kind of vibe you’re going for. I like AD’s and Bron’s rooms, because they got the candles. I had my wife send me some candles. I got my room smelling good now.”

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen shipped in?

JD: “Mattress. I don’t know if that’s crazy, because you gotta sleep. A wine cellar. LeBron got a refrigerator for his wine. So it’s really like a fridge, but for a cellar. Something crazy? I’ve seen bikes. I mean listen: I know he’s a rich man already, but Jeff Bezos from Amazon has gotta be making one million a month off of NBA players. There’s Amazon packages every day. So I’ve seen Cinnabons. I’ve seen Taco Tuesdays of different tacos you can make. I’ve seen it all.”

I’ve heard you guys play cards. Who is the best card player?

JD: “Sometimes. It’s different every time. Spades, Bourre, Poker. It depends. Everyone has their own thing. But I would say the best card player? Ahh, Rondo, ‘cause Rondo always cheats. Bron and AD are good. And how it works is when you get hot. You can be bad early. You want to be good later. That’s how it works in these games.”

Do you keep up with Rondo?

JD: “Yeah, I check on him. In the group chat, I’ll say, ‘Hey Rondo, how you doing?’ I know he was in L.A. rehabbing. I know he’s in Orlando. I know he’s gonna enter the bubble here soon. We keep in contact. I mean listen: It’s not like it’s normal. Because we’re trying to get by the day. So it’s not like we’re staying in constant contact. But we definitely check him out. That’s for sure. The team checks up on anybody.”

It’s a different situation, but have you been in touch with Avery Bradley, too?

JD: “I have not. Avery texted me on my birthday when I was here in quarantine the first night. I have not texted him since then. And that’s not any ill will or anything. That’s just basically the guys who are here, I’m trying to keep in contact and make everyone have the best time while focused on winning.”

Everyone wants to talk about the food. How’s the food been, especially since (team chef) Sandra Padilla arrived?

JD: “So much better. Sandra came, it got so much better. But Disney got better, too. The breakfast is good here. I would say overall it went from a D to a B-pl– ah, around a B. (Best meal?) Me? That’s a good question. Uhh, the breakfasts. You go over there for breakfast, got omelettes, pancakes. I love the breakfast by far here. And at the end of the day, I’ve been on my fish, so the red snapper. The red snapper has been good. Yeah, red snapper has been my favorite.”

Do you watch basketball here? Who is your favorite player to watch in the bubble?

JD: “Not as much as you would think. Because the schedules are different. Games start here in the morning. But I watched that Portland-Dallas one. I’ve watched (Devin) Booker. You know, players who’ve played on so many different teams, it’s more for the teams and players they’ve been on. So it’s moreso, Brooklyn I’ve watched. Clippers when they played Phoenix because Booker’s my guy. Man, it’s been good basketball. I think the fouling’s up, andI think we gotta let players play a little more when it comes to that. But overall I think it’s been a great product, and people are excited for playoffs. (Bubble MVP?) I think with Damian Lillard’s performance last night, I think it’s him first and Booker second. Just being objective. But to be 7-0 is phenomenal.”

Player guest guidelines have been clarified. How does it feel to get that news?

JD: “We’ve known about this for a while. We knew guests were coming. There’s certain rules and regulations and quarantine, and this and that. But NBA just wants to be safe. So just like them on top of us early on, once you get past the protocols, you do your quarantine, and once you get your first negative test — I mean no one’s testing positive in here. You’re tested every day. You’re quarantined. You’re good to go. So once family gets here, they pass their first two tests, it’s downhill. It’s easy.”

How do you keep up with family in the meantime?

JD: “I’m a FaceTime king. You try to do that. FaceTime’s been crucial. And the good thing about me, all three of my kids — 10, 8 and 6 — they call me. They text me: ‘Hey Dad, morning.’ So I just think technology. My oldest daughter said, “It feels like you’re here but you’re not.” So that’s the technology, but hey, listen man: People take for granted that we’re obviously giving up family time to finish the season. I know we make a lot of money and stuff like that, but I do think that next season, if this happens — and I’m totally confident in the (Player’s Association) and the NBA — they gotta figure out how to open it up and still be safe.”

All things being equal, it’d be nice to open up the locker room safely someday, too.

— Kyle Goon

Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter from reporter Kyle Goon, who is among the few reporters with a credential inside the NBA bubble. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

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