The NBA should currently be right in them middle of the 2020 Playoffs, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put that and the remainder of the regular season in jeopardy.
The hiatus was spurred after it was discovered Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, and soon after more testing was done and several players unfortunately contracted the disease.
While all the players inflicted have since been cleared of any symptoms, the NBA can not in good conscience restart the season until there are precautions and protocols put in place. At this point, if the regular season does come back it would have to be truncated.
In an interview with Mike D. Sykes II of USA Today, former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal argued that it should not resume until next season:
“I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there’s an asterisk. They’re not going to get the respect. What if a team that’s not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.”
O’Neal brings up an interesting point in that a shortened season and playoff picture would not garner the same amount of respect or revere that a title in a normal season would provide.
The grind of a long year and the work and effort needed to get to the NBA Finals is what makes a championship so prized, so revising the playoff format to accommodate certain teams or shortening the series length would create a perceived footnote.
However, a cheapened title is the least of the league’s worries at the moment because of all the revenue being lost with no games airing. It is no secret that the financial implications brought along with COVID-19 have mounted more pressure to resume the season, which helps explain why Adam Silver is so determined to find a solution.
The longer the hiatus continues, the more likely it is that basketball does not return for the rest of the year. Such an outcome would be truly disappointing given how exciting the season was, but it would be the only logical choice if the situation deteriorates further.