Adam Silver has been nearly flawless in the face of each unusual circumstance he has faced in his tenure as the NBA commissioner. This time happens to be a little different.
Restarting the season in a “bubble” amidst a global pandemic that has claimed over 100,000 lives is a logistics brain buster that the league has yet to completely solve even with the scheduling plans already in place. The league will be attempting to keep about a thousand people isolated and healthy during a time where most health experts have recommend social distancing well into the fall.
There is also the issue of the world’s longest-running active pandemic.
The NBA is a Black space. The recent killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others as we travel backward (some we will never hear about) have made it clear the Black lives continue to be expendable in this country and that law enforcement reform is no longer something to simply push for, but instead to be forcefully demanded.
This country is at a boiling point on multiple fronts, and the NBA needs to avoid being tone-deaf across the board to prevent turning an exciting opportunity into a disaster.
In any event, the blinders are on and this is going to happen.
22 teams will go to Orlando and begin the season on July 31st. Teams that were in a playoff chase will get a chance to make a push with eight regular-season games culminating in possible play-in games for the eighth-seed. There are a myriad of logistical hurdles in store. These are the things I will be looking at on and off the court as we look forward to a restart with guarded optimism.
The Fairness of the new format. No solution would have made everyone happy in these circumstances. Damian Lillard likely echoed the sentiments of many when he said that he would not play if there was nothing to play for. No worries because Portland, Pheonix, Memphis, San Antonio, Washington, and Orlando will all get the chance to engage in a battle royale for the rights to 8th seed. With bottom feeder teams being left at home, there will be unavoidable discrepancies in the strength of schedule between each team. Memphis has the toughest remaining strength of schedule while New Orleans has the easiest. New Orleans would tell you this is because they have already played their tougher games so it evens out, but it is clear that there will be people making excuses if that young Memphis group happens to get leapfrogged after having such a stellar year.
Great Year of Experimentation For the NBA. The Kobe Bryant inspired elam ending was an incredible jolt to the NBA all-star game. If they are able to pull this off, we are in for some incredible entertainment. Many of the league’s young stars will be playing critical games each night. We have yet to see Devin Booker play a game with the amount of urgency that is on the way. Of course, the Zion Williamson factor likely played a large part in the decision to expand the field. I’ve seen the format be referred to as gimmicky which is fair, but I don’t mind seeing constant high-urgency basketball from a league that sees effort and intensity rise and dip on a nightly basis in normal regular season circumstances. This will be as close to NCAA tournament/NFL level urgency that the NBA will get and I am here for it. While they’re at it they should consider having players and referees mic up. Let’s get crazy!
The Biggest Elephant in the Room. It seems like the NBA has everything figured out except how they are going to keep everyone safe in a state that has been spiking steadily over the last few days.
— Ronh2 (@Ronh456) June 5, 2020
The Coronavirus is still very much a threat and multiple NBA players have been rightfully protesting amongst massive crowds of protestors with varying levels of protection. Just because the country has decided the pandemic is over doesn’t mean that it actually has, and it will be on the NBA to ensure that the proper level of testing and protection is present at Disney World. There is clearly a lot to work on in this aspect with Adam Silver first suggesting that older coaches would not be able to be on the benches for games before Rick Carlisle announced two hours later that Silver admitted to him on the phone that he may have spoken too soon. Regardless of their justifications and age limits, we have seen the coronavirus kill people of all ages. Being under 65 is not a solution especially for any staff with underlying health issues.
The NBA has the fun stuff figured out, but without addressing the issue of safety it would be incredibly irresponsible to proceed forward.