The NBA has done what it can to ensure that the return-to-play plan comes with a focus on prioritizing player safety while also empowering them to use their platform in the fight against racial injustice during these unprecedented times.
The league has spared no expense in order to make the truncated season come to fruition at the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, Florida. Their efforts to establish the necessary safety protocols amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in order to play eight regular-season seeding games and playoffs required a major commitment from the NBA and its players.
Aside from addressing the issues of systemic racism during a global pandemic, there is speculation that the financial implications of not finishing out the 2019-20 season ultimately served as the biggest deterrent. After all, the NBA is a business and it is in the best interest of both parties to make sure that it continues to flourish.
Commissioner Adam Silver said during an appearance on ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” with Mike Greenberg that the NBA feels an obligation to provide a glimmer of hope during this troubling period in the United States:
“A lot of people pointed to the financial component of this. The incremental difference of at this point playing and not playing, isn’t nearly as great as people think. Especially given the enormous expense of putting this one. Really, it’s more a sense from the entire NBA community that we have an obligation to try this. The alternative is to stay on the sideline and in essence give into the virus. On one hand, this won’t be forever. We will ultimately find a vaccine, presumably, or some sort of antivirals that will help people who have conditions of COVID-19.
“For us, this is what we do. We put on NBA basketball. We think that for the country it will be a respite from the enormous difficulties people are dealing with in their lives right now. And I also think in terms of the social justice issues, it will be an opportunity for NBA players and the greater community to draw attention to this issues, because the world’s attention will be on the NBA in Orlando, Fla., if we’re able to pull this off.”
There is no question that the majority of NBA fans are relishing a some kind of return to normalcy by getting their fix of basketball in after the season was suspended back in March. Of course, these are the same reasons that players have voiced their concern over providing a distraction during this period of social unrest.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley feels a united effort from players and owners must be made to ensure that true change is being made. Silver may need to ramp up the league’s contributions toward the movement if he truly wants to ensure that all sides are on the same page when it comes to resuming the season for the right reasons.