About three weeks into the suspension of the NBA season in 2020 I wrote this article. I wrote it, in large part, to prepare myself for what I thought was a real possibility at the time. That possibility, the cancellation of the NBA season. This was before we knew about the NBA’s plan to sequester the teams in the now famous NBA Bubble. It seemed like a real possibility that we wouldn’t see any more professional men’s basketball then and I needed to get ready for it.
So, I wrote.
Today I heard that the Boston Celtics are about to not play their third scheduled game in a row due to COVID. Additionally, some NBA players have tested positive twice in a row, I’m getting myself ready again. Counting the three aforementioned Celtics games that we won’t see, there have been a total of five NBA games cancelled. Well, postponed officially, due to the pandemic.
One game, between the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets was played with only seven healthy players for the Sixers. Faced with the real possibility of a season cancellation last year the NBA pulled off a minor miracle and created the Bubble. The efforts of the NBA and NBPA literally saved the season. Today, after word of the spread of the virus among multiple players the NBA has responded by issuing new COVID-19 restrictions. They are pretty rough and include facemasks on the bench at all times, no leaving hotel for the road team, limit interaction between players elbow or fist bumps – no hugging! That’s right, there’s NO hugging in basketball now!
Of course, all these precautions are needed in light of the news. It’s hard, and a bit demoralizing, to know we are still here almost a full year after the pandemic hit the US. It’s also silly to lament the fact that basketball is impacted when, it’s just basketball. I’m confident every player, executive and fan would agree there are more important things in life. Yet, we miss the game the way it was.
I was watching the Clippers lose to the Warriors a few nights ago. I was struck by how much I missed the frenzy of the crowd on a Curry three. Think back to that game (unless you are a Clippers fan then please look away). The Warriors were down big then came back after Stephen Curry put them on his back. The crowd at the stadium would have gone BONKERS with every deep three and acrobatic shot Curry, and the other Warriors players made. Instead, the players were greeted with piped in noise and high-fives from the bench.It’s just not the same.As a fan, I miss the bedlam of a home teams fans. I miss being a fan watching games at the stadium. I miss basketball how it was. But again, there are more important things.Will the 2020-21 season be cancelled? I doubt it.
There is a lot of money to be lost and generally speaking, people don’t like to lose money. Will the 2020-21 season be suspended? Again, I don’t think so. The only reason to do that would be to set up the Bubble 2.0. We may see that if we are no better off come playoff time, but not now. No, I think the NBA will continue to limp along. At seasons end some teams will have played 72 games, others less.
The NBA playoffs this season will be a test of attrition of sorts with the teams that were able to avoid the virus along with injury and complacency earning a spot. Personally, its difficult to get excited when you know how difficult the road ahead looks. But, the games will go on and I will do all I can to watch, cheer and stay positive as we live through another wild, unique and different NBA season.