Amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement, the NBA is preparing to return from its hiatus after the 2019-20 regular season was put on hold.
For months, the NBA and NBPA were in constant contact with each other, as well as consulting with public health officials on potential plans and proposals on how to bring back the regular season.
Testing methods, playing locations, and timelines were primary issues the league needed to tackle and it eventually culminated into a 22-team competitive format set at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
While the general outline of the restart has been established, there are numerous concerns on the players’ side because of how fluid the situation is and the timing of it given what is going on in the country right now.
There is understandable worry that playing out the rest of the season would take away from the social issues the players have spent the last few weeks advocating for, not to mention that the risk of contracting coronavirus remains high.
Social justice questions aside, the rules and protocols that are being discussed for implementation at the bubble location have also given people pause. According to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, some players are skeptical that super stars will be forced to abide by the same directions set forth by the league:
Some players have privately questioned whether star players will be held to the same quarantine standards as role players, which the NBA and NBPA have insisted would be the case, sources said.
As things stand, players will be allowed to leave the bubble but if they do so without approval, will be subjected to things like self-quarantine and reduced compensation. It is no secret that the league’s popularity is mainly due to its stars and there is a prevailing thought that the NBA will do whatever it takes to ensure the best players are happy and ready to play.
While role players or end of bench members may feel this way, it is hard to believe that star players would be allowed to skimp over such strict guidelines, especially considering the enormous risk that comes with leaving the bubble. The financial implications of leaving also make it more likely that whoever does choose to report to Orlando will stay put.
Jared Dudley has said the Los Angeles Lakers collectively would ensure LeBron James and Anthony Davis are put in bubble wrap when not playing. Dudley added he didn’t anticipate anyone on the Lakers roster leaving the campus without reason.