While it seemed like the NBA bubble format had struck gold over August and September, the Covid-ridden start to the new NBA season has recently turned disastrous league-wide. The NBA resumed their 2020-2021 regular season in December. The season will be shortened to match the playoffs up with the usual dates. While usually being an 82 game regular season and 4 round playoff spanning from October to June, the NBA needed to make it a 70 game regular season. This way, the regular season will end the same time it usually does in April. Some other changes are teams will be playing more back-to-back games with no rest in between. This change is better for fans because less time in between games, but it raises concern for the players who fear fatigue and possible injury from the reduced rest time.
All of the previously mentioned issues are present but not pressing. The main pressing issue that has arisen from the new season is the covid outbreak within the league. Recently, multiple teams have had covid outbreaks leading to problems for the individual teams and the league as a whole. The teams with covid outbursts have had to quarantine while officials look into contract tracing for players and staff who have it. After that, players are deemed either available or not available to play their upcoming games. Because of this, teams are either forced to postpone games or play games without all their players.
For example, the Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard, Seth Curry, tested positive for Covid while the team was in New York City for a game. The team then had to quarantine in New York while contact tracing occurred by the NBA officials. Over the next day and a half, players such as superstar center Joel Embiid were deemed at risk because of another teammate, staff, or opponent’s positive test. Most of the 76ers’ regular players in their rotation were unable to play their following game against the Denver Nuggets. They instead played the game with only 7 of the usual 15 players (Most of whom rarely played normally). This along with the flat-out postponement of games has caused some fans and people around the league to look for new ideas regarding fixing the season.
There have been helpful ideas spread around for both the actual games being played and the routine league-wide for teams to follow. For example, some speculate whether forcing players to wear masks on the court while playing would be beneficial. Luke Bauer, a senior basketball player at the high school, plays with a mask on during practice and games. When asked about it, he describes it as,” It is definitely an experience I hopefully never have to have again. There is a lack of breathing room and the officials and other teams have been strict so getting tired occurs more frequently.” While the players in the NBA might agree with and side with Bauer on the matter, the other options for change could see the league shutting down the season until further notice. Many experts have called for the suspension of the season until things cool down and there is less of an issue with covid. Bauer, an NBA fan, when questioned about this said,” If the NBA were to shut down that would not solve the problem. The reason is that for the most part, some teams have had a drastic difference in cases. Shutting down the NBA will only make the NBA continue to lose more money than they already have.”
Some outside the league see this view on the covid situation as ignorant. Other fans are in the middle and would approve of the suspension if things continue to spiral out of control. Bauer’s teammate and avid NBA fan, Jack Gordon, was also asked about the potential suspension of playing. He states,” I think they should suspend the NBA season if more cases become present. Yes, a few teams have but they have still been able to play. If they do suspend the season it will only get the teams back that lost players due to covid but when the season resumes it will be the same.” He along with many others believes that while operations around the league right now aren’t perfect, things are still working and going fine.
While there are many different options and opinions to hear and this is a difficult decision to make for NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, the final decision should be about the fans and the players. Without the fans, the NBA wouldn’t exist and when it comes down to it, the NBA is entertainment for everyone. Along with that, the health and safety of the players should be taken into account, for it’s not worth risking lives and health for basketball games.