NBA Return Plans

Jack Meyer, Online Editor-in-Chief

On Mar. 11, the NBA indefinitely suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Much has happened since then, including widespread stay-at-home orders and temporary non-essential business closures across the United States. As the U.S. begins to return to normalcy with many of these orders being lifted, many professional sports leagues have started trying to determine if and when their seasons can resume. Since the NBA’s season had started long before the nation’s shutdown, their return has become more complicated than leagues such as the MLB, which had not started their season yet and will likely play an abbreviated schedule, or the NFL, which normally kicks off their season in August. 

The suspension of the NBA came as a shock to many fans, as the NBA had never indefinitely halted its season before. Some seasons had been shortened in the past due to a variety of reasons, but never due to a global pandemic. Several key figures within the league were caught off guard by the league’s actions, like Dallas Mavericks governor Mark Cuban, whose stunned reaction to the season being suspended was shown on ESPN during the final Mavericks game before the suspension went into effect. Fans also initially felt surprised by the league’s unprecedented course of action.

“I was shocked when the season was cancelled, because everything happened so quickly,” California resident and Charlotte Hornets fan Tyler Healy said. 

During the midst of the lockdowns, there was widespread speculation that the season may not resume, with analysts such as Brian Windhorst reporting in April that the NBA was leaning towards cancelling the season. However, it appears that the tides have shifted since these reports, as newer reports indicate that the NBA has begun preparing for a return sometime this summer. Several star players, such as Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, have pushed for the season to eventually resume. Some players have even hinted that the NBA will move forward with their plans to resume play. Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie sent out a Tweet that indicated the NBA would begin to play games again starting July 15. 

Assuming the NBA resumes the season, the games would resume without fans and in a single neutral location. Two locations that have been reported as possible suitors are Las Vegas and Walt Disney World in Orlando, with the latter having gained significant traction in the past few days. Walt Disney World has several facilities, such as their ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, that would allow the NBA to conduct multiple games in a single site. Extra precautions would also go into effect to ensure none of the players contract the virus, which has pleased many fans and analysts. 

“I think [the NBA] should return under the premise that there are no fans and every player in the league is tested [for the virus],” Louisiana resident and Denver Nuggets fan Kaine Hanson said. 

Recent developments have indicated that the NBA would likely play multiple games everyday to finish off the regular season before the postseason begins; however, no official plans for finishing (or skipping) the regular season have been announced. The news of the NBA’s plans to resume the season has excited fans across the league. 

“I think the NBA should return,” Palmetto sophomore and Miami Heat fan Aaron Amster said. “[The fans, coaches and players] deserve a proper ending to the season.” 

Additionally, players would have a training camp prior to games resuming in order to return to basketball shape; this training camp would likely last three to four weeks. One thing that owners, players and fans can all agree on is that as long as games can go on safely, it will be great to have basketball back.