The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver have to be ecstatic with how the bubble experiment has worked as there have been no setbacks since the 2019-20 season restart on the Walt Disney World campus.
After invited teams played scrimmages and eight seeding games, the NBA Playoffs have been nothing short of entertaining. It’s now in the home stretch as Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat play Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
The lack of fans has taken away the intensity and feeling of some of games, but the on-court product arguably looks better due to the elimination of travel. While this has been a massive success for the league, the major question now is how the 2020-21 season plays out.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is ongoing and the NBA’s upcoming schedule has yet to be determined. In an appearance on CNN, Silver explained the plan is to have a full slate of games with fans in attendance:
“The goal for us next season is to play a standard season; 82-game season and playoffs,” Silver explained. “Further, the goal would be to play games in home arenas, in front of fans. But there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example.
“Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings? Will there be other protections? There are some things we’re learning down in Orlando on the campus, and also learning a lot from other sports. What baseball is currently doing, what football is doing, college sports has begun playing.
“There’s a lot of new information in the marketplace that we’re looking to absorb, but the goal is to play a standard season. Incidentally, when we went into our planning for this current season, we played a bit of an unusual finish to the regular season but it was very important to the players and teams that we play our standard playoffs, which is what we’re in the process of doing now.”
There were rumors that the league could start next season in December, but Silver acknowledged that it would most likely start sometime in 2021 instead. The NBA Draft was recently pushed back from Oct. 16 to Nov. 18, showing that Silver and the league office are flexible in terms of event dates.
With the current health crisis not letting up, things are subject to change within the coming months but at least there is some hope that the regular season schedule will stay the same.
Coronavirus driving Silver’s decision
The NBA and Silver have executed the bubble campus with the coronavirus in mind the entire time, implementing strict rules and regulations that everyone inside needs to abide by.
While the NFL opted to allow teams to decide whether or not fans would be in attendance, it is clear he is listening to the medical professionals on the best course of action. With how things look now, it is hard to envision fans being in arenas even in early 2021 but Silver will continue to analyze the data and go from there.
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