In case you missed it, The MAK show with Mark-Anthony Kaye, a new weekly segment on Mornings with Keyshawn, LZ and Travis on ESPN LA 710 and the ESPN app debuted this week, where we learned about the beginnings of “life in the bubble”, and unlike recent “Fyre Fest” comparisons, per Mark-Anthony, “it’s more than doable”. Check out the below for more highlights from the first MAK show, and make sure and tune-in to ESPN LA 710 AM or the ESPN App live on Fridays at 8:15 a.m. PT.
Life Inside the Bubble
The morning show hosts had to begin with one of the most pressing questions surrounding the player “bubble”, the hyper secure ecosystem at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando that players and team personnel are living within throughout the MLS is Back tournament. Question one, of course, the food.
“Ah man you know its hotel food, I mean I think that it’s been a shock to so many players because we’re so used to going on away trips for two days and you know, you can handle the food and then you get back to your home cooking but I think now they’re realizing that we’re going to have to eat this for thirty odd days…but it’s hotel food, you know we’re not used to it but it’s more than doable.”
Morning Show host Keyshawn Johnson pressed further. “so when you’re swallowing do have to hold your nose and drink water right after?”
To which MAK responded with a hearty laugh.
More than the food, the players are having to acclimate themselves to a whole new living environment for almost six weeks, and the hosts wanted to learn a little more about how it’s been getting settled. Is it fun? At all interesting? Or an inconvenience that has to happen to get these games played.
“Well you know obviously I think if everyone could have had a different way to get these games done they would’ve voted for it if there was an option but it wasn’t, and we need to make the best of it…but yes being in the hotel with other teams, it’s not like a normal hotel where you see a lot of people in the lobby, you know, most of the guys just stay in their rooms, stay on their floor, you kind of have everything you need except when you have to go for a meal and you have to wear a mask everywhere except for in your room…so most people are in their room”
Another element of the bubble which has had media personalities and fans alike opining on (see Stephen A. Smith on the NBA Bubble), was the question of if players were going to respect the integrity of the bubble, not come and go, but Mark-Anthony was not worried.
“Yeah you know I think at the beginning before getting here I definitely thought that was a possibility that could happen but now being in the bubble and seeing the security they have I don’t think that anyone is willing to take that chance and jeopardize it for their team, I mean you look at Nashville and Dallas who, they come in, and they’re out already [as a result of an abundance of positive COVID-19 tests] and I think once you’re here you have to understand that you need to do your job and get through with it and that’s the quickest way you can get home but might as well win some games when you’re here so I don’t think anyone is going to take that opportunity to jeopardize it for everyone.
When asked how he is spending his free time in the bubble, he is still trying to get settled in.
“I’ve been trying to do yoga, I do it with my girlfriend, we’ll also get on facetime and do a little Peloton session to have some engagement with her then just go through my day and try to stay mentally engaged somehow, you know read a book for twenty minutes, I do have my best friend Peter who is in the other hotel and we try to meet up every now and then just to have a little conversation and then we go our ways, and I think everyone is trying to adapt and the biggest thing is, just like when this whole quarantine thing started is you need to find a routine, and I think that’s what will make it easier to help you not feel like you’re stranded in a hotel the whole time.”
On Black Lives Matter
Being that Kaye has been a very involved and vocal supporter of the current social justice movement, the morning show hosts aptly shifted into asking what kind of Black Lives Matter gear he would be sporting, and how he continues to be involved.
“We have some t-shirts that they’ve given us for warmups and pregame walkouts, and I’m pretty sure some clubs have done different things but we also have an opportunity to write names on the back of our jerseys which I think is pretty cool to give some spotlight on issues that still need more attention and are still waiting for some lawful decisions to go their way and the Club is doing the best they can do to make sure we raise awareness”.
On Playing Without Carlos
The big question swirling about in LAFC circles is how the Club will fare without its star, reigning MVP Carlos Vela, who elected to sit out of the MLS is Back tournament to care for his pregnant wife and three year-old son. In fewer words, Mark-Anthony isn’t that worried.
“Yeah it’s going to have to come from a lot of players, you know we have a lot of talented players and maybe in light of Carlos missing they will step up and start to produce for us, you look at a player like Brian [Rodriguez] who us very electric and you know can take [sic] the guys on defense by shock sometimes so I think that getting him in a good from and good confidence leading into the first game will help us a lot. We have a player like Diego [Rossi] who everyone knows what Diego is capable of doing so I thinks it’s just responsibility falls on all of us to step up, yes Carlos is a big player on our team but you know we are a very good team and we have good players without him too so it’s just an opportunity to prove that.
On Playing Without Fans
Keyshawn Johnson knows a thing about the energy you get from thousands of fans cheering you on, and he asked Mark-Anthony how he thinks playing without them will be.
“It’s going to be a tough one without fans, but I think the onus will drop down to all the players, the eleven guys who will be on the field at once who will have to really motivate each other and keep everyone focused and concentrated and obviously the guys off the bench are going to have to figure out a way to stay engaged to so that when they come into the game they can have help us. It’s going to be different for sure there’s no way of replicating fans without having fans there whether there’s a jumbotron and you see people on Zoom, it’s not the same, so I think the biggest part is us being together as a group even stronger now and just understanding that you have to depend on your teammates to lift you up sometimes.