The return-to-play plan decided on by NBA commissioner Adam Silver amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is going to be different than anything fans and players have ever seen before.
The scenario entails 22 teams going to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to finish out the season between July 30 and October.
Ending an NBA season in the middle of October is unheard of, and hopefully will never be repeated. Of course, concluding the season in mid-October means that the start of the 2020-21 campaign will be pushed back significantly.
Tentatively, the league has proposed a Dec. 1 start date, but it seems more likely than not that this will get pushed back even further.
For the two teams that play in the NBA Finals this season, they would only have a few weeks off before training camp began. Silver recently reiterated what timeline the NBA is currently operating with, via ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” with Mike Greenberg:
“We go to the Draft, which we’ve tentatively scheduled for Oct. 15. And then we look roughly for a return to training camp sometime in November, and very tentatively we’d be looking to start next season in early December.”
Obviously, all of these dates are up in the air, but Silver believes the quick turnaround won’t be unprecedented. It may be difficult, but for players who have been involved in the Olympics before, it should be nothing new:
“Well first of all, we’ve had turnarounds like that for some players before, who have participated in Olympic competition. So it’s not unprecedented. With the conversations we’ve had with Michele and the players, I’ve said those are tentative dates. We need to work through them. We’re dealing with extraordinary circumstances.
“Not that anybody is forgetting, but this incredibly unique circumstance and what we’re trying to do has never been done before, as far as I know. To find a way to create our own sense of normality through all these incredibly difficult societal forces. Like I said, sacrifice in terms of turnaround; sacrifice in terms of how these players, coaches, referees and others will be living on this campus, that’s all going to be part of this. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Yes, will the turnaround be faster and quicker than normal? Absolutely. There will be hardship along the way.”
Nothing about the next year-plus of sports is going to be easy. There are going to need to be a number of sacrifices made from all parties, and some things are going to be very different than what we’re used to.
However, it feels as though the NBA — and especially Silver — is equipped to handle these things. Communication between the league and the players will be key as always, and people will need to have a different expectation for what sports look like for a long while.
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