Having just defeated the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers were in the midst of perhaps their best stretch of the 2019-20 season when the NBA got shut down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Ever since, the hope has been that the league would be able to return and finish out the season. Doing so would give the Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, a chance at the franchise’s 17th championship.
Safety has been the No. 1 priority throughout this shut down though, and that remains the case a couple of months later. The NBA office and Players Association have been working in conjunction to try and find a solution to finish out the season, and as time goes by, the possibility of it becoming a reality is growing.
The league has discussed a number of different options as far as places to play, with Las Vegas and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida seeming to be the most realistic options.
Home arenas haven’t been talked about as much due to travel restrictions, but with Major League Baseball considering playing games in home ballparks, the NBA may begin to do the same.
If that is the case, the Lakers may be able to host games without fans as soon as the beginning of June. “Sporting events, pro sports in that first a week or so of June without spectators, and modifications, and very prescriptive conditions also could begin to move forward,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during his daily address.
“And a number of other sectors of our economy will open up again, if we hold these trend lines in the next number of weeks, and that includes, for example, getting a haircut, which is very meaningful. And that could be done on a regional variance, but it will be able to be advanced we believe in the next few weeks even statewide.”
Newsom did add, however, that nothing is set in stone yet and health and safety will continue to be the focus before anything opens up. “Well, that’s deep conditions, deep modifications, deep stipulations in terms of protecting not only the players, but more broadly their support staff,” he said.
“Again, we’re not talking about fans in this respect. We’re just talking about the opportunity to begin to work with county health directors and work with the state to begin the process of organizing around what that may or may not look like. And so we’ve been moving in that direction.
“As I noted on at least two or three occasions very publicly, we’ve been talking with league representatives from all the major league sports and working with our collaborative through the Western Governors Association and others, comparing and contrasting best practices, what’s happening in a number of other states that have professional sports in their states.
“And we are looking to advance those conversations now, not just more publicly, but advance them at a county level, working with county health officials to put out those guidelines on what that may or may not look like.”
The Lakers’ practice facility was able to re-open this past weekend, so some players have already begun returning and working out in preparation for the resumption of the season.
While there are still a ton of logistics to be worked out in regard to safety and the format of the remainder of the regular season and postseason, the Lakers will be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference barring any significant changes.
Some people such as Shaquille O’Neal have called for the season to be cancelled, but with Newsom’s recent statement and New York beginning to open back up as well, it seems that it’s now only a matter of time before the NBA and other sports resume play.