Outside the NBA Bubble: McKenzie Caldwell-Pope on Parenting, FaceTime

McKenzie is grateful for the support system she has through the National Basketball Wives Association, a philanthropic-minded group of women who not only can commiserate during strange times such as these (without worrying that they might sound out of touch to the average wife and mom), but are there to lift each other up whenever they’re feeling low. 

“Reaching out to my friends that are in the same situation, they’re away from their husbands” and missing them so much is a comfort. “But,” she acknowledged, “to my cousin who has a husband that’s been deployed for nine months, she’s like, ‘Okay get over it.’ So it’s really good to have those women to just vent to and motivate each other, and even whenever we were in L.A. for a little bit [this past spring] to get our kids together because we know we’re both quarantined.”

She continued, “I really love the Wives Association.” The pandemic prevented an in-person gathering this year, but in the past they’ve had summits, where they can freely talk about their passion projects, network and get advice. “You may network with someone that can help you get to the next level in whatever you’re doing,” McKenzie explained. “It’s just really great.” Plus, they “bond and meet other women from other cities,” which, considering their husbands could end up with a job in another city at any time, can provide a valuable lifeline for a new family in town. For example, “I had friends that moved to Detroit [where KCP played from 2013 until 2017] after we did and they [wanted to know], ‘Where did you get your hair done?’ ‘Who did you get your nails?’ ‘What school did your kids go to?’ It really helps.”

Because, despite the obvious perks that come with the lifestyle, being married to a basketball player can be “such a lonely life,” McKenzie admitted. “I always joke that I keep having kids, so I’ll just have company.” But honestly, she continued, “It requires more than people think. Mental strength, staying positive, being away from your husband. Besides the bubble, you know, they’re gone maybe three to four days a week” during the NBA season. “But that’s just holding down the house and taking care of home. And then some of us have off-season homes and take care of those households, taking care of our family members” and not wanting to bother their husbands while they’re trying to keep their minds on the game. “So, we wear a lot of hats.”

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