Matisse Thybulle Is the Breakout (Mini-Movie) Star of the N.B.A. Bubble


“They’ll be like, ‘Get the camera!’” Thybulle said. “There is a certain amount of trust involved. This is a very intimate environment, and my teammates trust that I’m going to choose footage that puts people in the best light.”

Looks inside the first week of the N.B.A. bubble from Thybulle and other players like JaVale McGee of the Los Angeles Lakers, who has his own vlog series, are being produced amid a highly restrictive environment for the news media. Most of the reporters who have arrived on the Disney campus are still being quarantined in their hotel rooms as they undergo testing protocols, and even after they finish self-isolating for seven days, many areas will be off-limits to them.

The players have far more freedom, and Thybulle has been putting it to use. But while it may not be traditional journalism, his project does not feel contrived. Many of the most human moments are his exchanges with teammates. Kyle O’Quinn, a reserve forward, quickly emerges as one of the more personable figures. O’Quinn, for example, cannot get enough of a certain brand of cherry seltzer. He laments the lost art of human conversation. He recalls playing against Elton Brand, the 76ers’ general manager — and Grant Hill, who retired in 2013. There is a pregnant pause.

“You’re old,” Thybulle says to O’Quinn, who debuted in 2012.

Tobias Harris, one of the team’s starting forwards, moonlights as another one of Thybulle’s comedic foils. When the team undergoes a round of coronavirus testing, Thybulle focuses his camera on Harris from a distance. Thybulle gives him a thumbs up.

“Good job, T!” Thybulle shouts.

Harris appears to acknowledge Thybulle with a different hand gesture. (They are close friends.)

“I love it,” Ben Simmons, the team’s All-Star point guard, told reporters this week. “It’s a historic moment for sports in general, so I think what he’s been doing has been great.”



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