After leaving the bubble in Orlando for the birth of his son, Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley was required to complete a four-day quarantine upon returning to the Walt Disney World. Conley missed the first two games of the series against the Denver Nuggets but returned in Game 3 and led his team to a 124-87 win.
"If you knew what I just went through in quarantine, being locked up all day and only being able to go outside for 30 minutes [each day] and dribble a ball in the parking lot, not being able to play," Conley said of NBA protocol upon returning to the bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, per ESPN.
"Being on that court is all I was thinking about other than my family. I'm just thankful to be back and looking forward to the rest of the series."
It felt like Conley never left the bubble
Conley scored a team-high 27 points in Game 3 and the Jazz now lead 2-1 against the Nuggets.
"Just playing the game," Conley said. "I know how to play. I've been here before. I know what I'm doing. Just shut out all the noise and going out there and having fun." Not being able to help his team in the opening two games was extremely tough for Conley.
"I get anxious, I start to sweat," Conley admitted. "I am sitting there yelling at the guys and screaming, texting the guys during the game even though I know they are not going to respond. Giving them my thoughts and being a fan and being supportive.
It was definitely hard to watch without me being out there, but for us to get one of the two first games is great." Conley's wife gave birth to their third kid and Conley returned to the court motivated to put up a great performance in his first game following the birth of his son.
"First of all, I always play for my kids, especially now with a third," Conley said. "Just makes it that much more evident, that much more of a purpose, when you're out there playing. Really was just a joy to be out there with the guys.
I know how much they supported me through this process and how much they wanted me back out on the court, so I'm just happy I got to go out there and play with them."