Sinclair thrilled to be working in the NBA bubble

Here is the challenge Tim Sinclair will face in the NBA bubble: How do you work as a public-address announcer for games the public can't attend?

"It's going to be really interesting for me," Sinclair said. "Yeah, with no fans, I tend to react to the fans, right? Reflect what they are or should be feeling in the course of a game.

"So not having them will be different, but I think with all the other things going on it's still going to feel like an actual game and hopefully my part in it will fit just fine."

The NBA, he said, is working hard to make these games feel as normal as possible, for players in the arena and for fans watching on TV.

PA announcers are part of that effort.

First things first, of course. Quarantine, then work. That's the way life is during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sinclair arrived in Orlando last Saturday and found a driver and a luxury SUV waiting to whisk the VIP away to a hotel. He spent one night at his initial hotel, where he was tested for the coronavirus.

When the test came back negative, Sinclair entered the bubble at Disney World where he is confined to his hotel room until noon Sunday.

"I do miss being outside," he said Wednesday, laughing.

In all the 42-year-old Champaign resident sees four more weeks of NBA bubble life ahead of him. But even then it won't be time to go home.

On Aug. 14 he will drive to Bradenton, Fla., and enter the WNBA bubble for another four or five weeks.

NBA games resume July 30. Sinclair's first game will be Lakers vs. Mavericks.

"There will be a lot of days that I'm doing two games," he said. "In fact with the WNBA they almost said count on it. So I'll be used for sure."

Always keeping busy

Sinclair's public address background is diverse within the sports world. He calls games for University of Illinois men's and women's basketball, women's soccer and some football games.

This will be his seventh season working Chicago Fire soccer games. And in 2018 he became the Indiana Pacers' public-address announcer too, traveling in style with the Pacers to India last October for two preseason games, the first NBA games in India.

He also worked the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago in February.

Pity Sinclair's RAV4. Driving the interstates between Chicago, Southwest suburban Bridgeview, Champaign and Indianapolis, he put 70,000 miles on it in 21 months before trading it in just before he left for Orlando.

The Fire is nearby, in the MLS is Back tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.

"I'd love to go see the Fire play, but it's just not going to happen at this point," he said.

For now, of course, he's going nowhere and loving the opportunity. While confined to his hotel room he is brought three square meals a day - "It's always way too much, but it's good" - and is trying to relax and prepare for games the best he can.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of tests, with Sinclair checking his own temperature and blood-oxygen level on a regular basis and answering questions about his health via a league app. He also has to get both the nasal and the tonsil cheek swab coronavirus tests daily, and will continue to do so even after quarantine ends.

"So far so good," he said.

The tests and checks will continue even after quarantine ends, with the NBA giving him a ring to wear that will track his health and how close he comes to others.

"The amount of time and energy and money that everybody has put into this is unbelievable," he said. " ... I don't know how they could do much more. And I feel completely safe. I really feel it's more dangerous for me to go to Walmart than it is to be here, so I'm good with it."

A part of history

He keeps in touch with his two sons, 11 and 13. Divorced, Sinclair missed his older boy's birthday Thursday.

"Definitely, not seeing my boys for a couple of months is the hardest/worst part of it all," Sinclair said, emphasizing his sons were involved with and supported his decision. "We'll connect via text and some FaceTime and things, but that's the worst part."

The best part is he is working again, getting paid again and is a part of something that will be talked about for years to come.

"So to be one of the few who gets to be inside it and experiencing what life is like, I feel really honored for one, and it would be really hard to pass that up," he said.

And for a guy who spends so much time behind the wheel, it will be good to get the payoff of being behind a mic again.

Even if there are no fans behind him in the stands.

"I really feel like I'm doing what I love," he said as an alarm went off reminding him about a COVID test he had already taken. "I'm already doing a job that I love, so that in and of itself is great. And then to be doing it at the highest possible levels and then getting the treatment that sort of goes with that, you feel like an impostor, right?

"It's like, who did I trick to convince them to let me do this?"

Tim Sinclair will handle PA announcing for the NBA and WNBA in Florida. Courtesy of Tim Sinclair
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