It seems that with each new piece of information, a return of the 2019-20 NBA season gets more likely. After more than two months since the initial suspension began due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Los Angeles Lakers may have a chance to secure a championship.
That won’t be decided at the Staples Center, however, as the league will almost certainly return to play at a singular location. The proverbial bubble scenario – has been discussed as the safest return-to-play option for quite some time now.
The frontrunner to be the host for the remainder of the season is Disney World in Orlando, Florida. And if the NBA is to be played in multiple cities, Las Vegas and Houston are considered options as well.
The Staples Center – home to the Lakers and L.A. Clippers – reportedly offered to host the NBA’s return by also leveraging L.A. Live, but there were never serious discussions about it, according to Dan Woike of the L.A. Times:
Staples Center expressed interest in hosting the NBA’s return, with L.A. Live acting as the hub with hotel and dining options and direct access to the arena, but serious conversations never materialized, according to people familiar with the situation.
While it would be a unique setting for the Lakers and Clippers to continue the season, there are simply too many logistical issues that would come with hosting the NBA in Los Angeles.
To start, it would be much harder to promote a “campus-like” environment if the space being occupied is significantly smaller than Orlando or even Las Vegas. This means that players would be more likely to venture out and, in turn, possibly become infected.
Orlando provides the best pre-existing infrastructure to both allow players and staff to roam freely while also keeping them isolated from other people. Las Vegas has equally good infrastructure to allow players to roam freely, and with the city being largely empty due to the pandemic, risk of outside contact is lower than normal.
Staples Center and the surrounding areas would certainly provide the best playoff atmosphere over any other option, but the health and safety of the players has to come first. It’s this reason why the NBA has taken so long to make a decision, and why Disney World will most likely be that decision.