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After opting out of bubble, Bradley ready to play again

November 25, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers guard Brandon Knight defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. Bradley still has serious concerns about the coronavirus, particularly because one of his children has struggled with respiratory illnesses. Those concerns kept him from the NBA’s restart bubble. They won’t keep him from this season. Bradley has finalized his new contract with the Miami Heat and says he will be ready to go when camp starts next week. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers guard Brandon Knight defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. Bradley still has serious concerns about the coronavirus, particularly because one of his children has struggled with respiratory illnesses. Those concerns kept him from the NBA’s restart bubble. They won’t keep him from this season. Bradley has finalized his new contract with the Miami Heat and says he will be ready to go when camp starts next week. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, shoots as Cleveland Cavaliers guard Brandon Knight defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. Bradley still has serious concerns about the coronavirus, particularly because one of his children has struggled with respiratory illnesses. Those concerns kept him from the NBA’s restart bubble. They won’t keep him from this season. Bradley has finalized his new contract with the Miami Heat and says he will be ready to go when camp starts next week. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

MIAMI (AP) — Avery Bradley still has serious concerns about the coronavirus, particularly because one of his children has struggled with respiratory illnesses.

Those concerns kept him from the NBA’s restart bubble. They won’t keep him from this season.

Bradley has finalized his new contract with the Miami Heat — the team he would have faced off against in the NBA Finals had he gone to the bubble at Walt Disney World this summer with his previous team, the Los Angeles Lakers. And when the Heat open camp next week in advance of the Dec. 22 start of the regular season, Bradley said he’ll be ready.

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“I mean, this is the new normal,” said Bradley, who wore a mask for his first media session as a member of the Heat on Tuesday — a call held over Zoom. “My decision right now is to just focus on playing. That’s my focus. I feel like everyone has a better idea of this virus; obviously, there’s still some unknowns. But my decision not to go to the bubble just was about the impact on my family.”

Bradley and his wife sat down this past June, weighed the pros and cons, and he ultimately decided not to take the risk. The Lakers beat the Heat for the NBA title in six games; the Lakers also gave Bradley their blessing to exercise his right to not play, something that the league and the National Basketball Players Association agreed was an appropriate option to offer players before going to the bubble.

This season won’t be held in a bubble. Teams will be on planes, in hotels, playing road games again. There will be risks, though the league is still working on health and safety protocols that will be designed to mitigate those risks as much as possible.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a unique start of this season and some new things that we’re going to have to get used to, but I’m ready for it,” Bradley said. “We’re just going to try to navigate through it as best as we can.”

Miami becomes Bradley’s sixth team. The 6-foot-3 guard — who turns 30 on Thanksgiving Day — averaged 8.6 points for the Lakers last season and is a career 11.8-points-per-game scorer through his first 10 seasons.

He has viewed Miami as the place he’d like to play for some time.

“We all know what it means to be a Miami Heat player, the passion and the dedication it takes to be a part of this culture,” Bradley said. “And I always felt like if I ever got an opportunity to play here, then I would fit in perfect. ... It’s here now, and I’m going to make sure I take advantage of it. I’m prepared and I’m excited about it because I do feel like a perfect fit.”

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