On March 12, 2020, Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver surprisingly announced that the 2020 NBA season had been suspended indefinitely. This was in reference to the imminent Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Pandemic. As it turns out Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert contracted the virus testing positive before his game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Silver’s justification for one NBA player testing positive prompting the cancelation of the whole season is simple. It is a prevention technique. Basketball takes place with ten individuals in close proximity to each other battling over one shared basketball. The Coronavirus has the potential to spread in this environment.
Since then, there have been no NBA Games. This problem has not only led to a financial loss for the players. It has also led to losses for people employed by the Arena and the team. Concession stand workers, parking lot attendants, and the cleaning staff loses money with no sports or events taking place in the arena. The crisis has made it difficult for all people financially, but the financial troubles are felt even more for the see unemployed arena workers. Players have been doing all they can to assist. Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love donated $100,000 to “displaced arena workers”. Pelicans Rookie Zion Williamson will pay full salaries to all of the arena workers in New Orleans for a month during this period to help with the financial burden for workers
During this time period of no live sports, players have been asking when they will be able to return. The NBA’s Players Union and the NBA League office have had fluid conversations about when to return. Today the NBA proposed a new reopening plan for the league. Games will take place in Orlando at Walt Disney World. Games will resume on July 31st with the season being forced to conclude on October 12th in preparation for the 2020 – 2021 season. Games will be played in 3 central arenas at this complex.
One thing has remained certain, some players want to play and others don’t. Damian Lillard, the point guard for the 9th seeded Trail Blazers, is one such player. The Trail Blazers were 3.5 games from the 8 seed (or making the playoffs). Given the opportunity, Lillard believes his team would be able to make the playoffs. He has suggested that he is not willing to play if his team does not have an equal chance of making the playoffs. For this reason, as part of the NBA’s reopening plan, they have proposed that 22 NBA teams will be allowed to play 8 regular-season games for seeding purposes. With this provision, Lillard would have a fair chance to make the playoffs. The league also plans to introduce a play-in tournament. Many details have not been released on this proposal. It has been speculated that if a conference’s 8 seed and 9 seed are within 4 games of each other, they will participate in an all or nothing game to see which team qualifies.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, some players are not ready to play. Common justifications include the fear of leaving one’s family – as part of this plan, players are required to be tested every day and remain isolated in a hotel in Orlando to prevent human contact and possible contraction. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted in an interview that he believes his season to be over because the Warriors are so far out of it, already being eliminated from the playoffs before the season was canceled. This idea is included in the restart plan. 8 teams will not be participating in the restart, – the Warriors, Hornets, Bulls, Knicks, Pistons, Hawks, Cavaliers, and the Timberwolves.
The NBA season got canceled at a poor time, right in the middle of playoff pushes. Playoffs are really important for the NBA and make most of their revenue for the year. According to NBC Sports, the NBA makes $2 Million from each NBA Playoff games. Playoff games bring a lot of merchandise and National Television Money. With the NBA coming back, they have the ability to reclaim some of this lost money.
The plan is not set in stone. These ideas are set to be introduced to the League’s Board of Governers Thursday. They have the final approval in these situations.