Skylar Diggins-Smith Says She's 'Conflicted' About Playing in WNBA Bubble

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 12, 2020

BRADENTON - JULY 10:  Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury dribbles the ball during practice at IMG Academy on July 10, 2020 in Bradenton, 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 Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/Getty Images

Phoenix Mercury point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith told reporters in a Zoom call Sunday that she is "kind of conflicted" about playing in the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, per Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com.

"I'm just happy to be here," Diggins-Smith said. "I don't really have much to say. I'm kind of conflicted being here. But I'm happy to be on this team, I'll say that."

Diggins-Smith declined comment when a reporter asked why she felt conflicted about being in the WNBA bubble, which is hosting 12 teams for a 22-game regular season plus playoffs.

Diggins-Smith's answer was in response to a question about how it felt playing in the WNBA this season after missing last year on pregnancy leave.

The ex-Notre Dame star noted that she played with USA Basketball last winter and also said the following:

"I haven't really stopped playing basketball except for a little bit during the quarantine," Diggins-Smith said. "But, yeah, it's basketball. You know, it's still round, and it's still played the same way."

Diggins-Smith joins a potentially powerhouse team with her, Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, all of whom have played together for Team USA, joining forces on the Mercury.

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"We're just trying like every other team to put the chemistry together on the floor," Diggins-Smith said.

She continued:

"We have a great group, we have great personalities, very unselfish. Everybody seems to be getting along pretty well.

"This team has a lot of veterans on it. This is definitely the most veteran group I've been a part of. It was kind of seamless off the floor, so now we're just trying to put it together on the floor in the time that we have. We're not unique with that; I think all 12 teams are in a predicament, especially with all the moving around, and trades, and new players/young players mixing in. So everybody's trying to figure that out right now, but I'm liking where we are."

The Mercury could very well make a run to the title despite some tough competition at the top of the league. But it will be done in unusual fashion with the league entering a bubble because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conditions at the Bradenton hotel where players are staying have not received good reviews.

Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post provided some insight into the problems:

"The early reviews have been decidedly mixed, and many of them have been aired on social media, much to the league’s embarrassment.

"The issues appear to center on lodging and food accommodations. There are three locales for players to stay in, and players were able to request staying alone in a hotel room or with roommates in a villa.

"Some players are housed in the Lodge at IMG, where ESPN’s Kayla Johnson posted pictures of an unappetizing-looking meal, bug traps in between mattresses, rodent traps in a shoddy-looking laundry room and what appeared to be a worm on the floor in one of the rooms."

Mothers are allowed to bring their child and caretaker with them to the bubble, per Cassandra Negley of Yahoo Sports. The league has also kept safety paramount amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Daily testing is occurring, and each player has even received a personal thermometer.

Still, it's undoubtedly a difficult situation for players with them being away from their families while the league tries to hold the season.

Despite the bubble environment, it could also be unsettling to be in Florida, which just set a one-day record high for any American state with 15,299 new cases reported Sunday, per Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan of CNN.com.

Games are slated to begin July 25, per a league announcement.

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