The NBA started it all and now their goal is to resume. Not that it’s the league’s fault, but the NBA was the first major sports organization to halt its season when it announced a suspension of games on March 11. Just as the Oklahoma City Thunder were set to host the Utah Jazz, the game was canceled, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert having tested positive for the coronavirus.
That action set in motion a chain of events that has crippled the sports scene in the US, and which is going to require years for leagues to overcome the financial turmoil. The NBA recently announced that it’s goal is to resume the season in late July and head to the playoffs, but the reaction among players has been a little tenuous.
Several players have spoken up about their belief that the season – for different reasons – should be canceled; however, the odds of that happening are longer than those of Tim Tebow actually becoming a starter in MLB (which has its own problems to worry about).
NBA Goal Is For Sports To Resume
Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trail Blazers and Kyle Irving of the Brooklyn Nets have been the most vocal on believing the league should simply wash it hands and call it quits for the year. They haven’t been the only ones, though, and players have expressed concern that the NBA has yet to provide enough of an explanation of how it plans on mitigating potential health issues when the teams and league officials take over Disney World next month.
Fortunately for all basketball players, their families, league personnel, sportsbooks and fans everywhere, those opposing the return of the NBA season are a small minority. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the man who has led the country’s response to COVID-19, believes it’s time for basketball to return.
Fauci also feels that the NBA has done a great job to get things ready. Speaking with sports network Stadium, he explained, “I actually have looked at that plan and it is really quite creative what they’re really trying to do, and I think they might very well be quite successful with it, is to create a situation where it is as safe as it possibly could be for the players by being in this bubble.
“Essentially, testing everybody, make sure that you start with a baseline of everybody being negative and trying to make sure that there is no influx into that cohort of individuals and do a tournament-type play. It’s not the classic basketball season, but certainly for the people who are thirsting for basketball, who love basketball the way I do, it’s something that I think is a sound plan. I was very pleased to see that the intent was not reckless at all…”
Big Names Support A Season Relaunch
In addition to concerns over health, some players, as well as former players, believe that the death of George Floyd at the hands of police would be overshadowed by the return of basketball, and they won’t want this to happen. Former basketball star and NBA champ Stephen Jackson asserts, “Now ain’t the time to be playing basketball, y’all. Now ain’t the time.”
Jackson’s argument that Floyd’s death needs to remain at the top of the list is valid, but he’s giving NBA’s return too much credit in asserting that it will steal the spotlight. The league agrees, and all indications are that the NBA’s goal is going to proceed as expected, without interference.
There’s also another really good reason for pro basketball to finish out the season. LeBron James wants the season to be completed; he knows that his legacy as one of the greatest, if not the greatest player, depends on it. When James speaks, other players listen and if he plans on making the trip to Orlando, there’s little doubt plenty of others will follow in his footsteps.
Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is confident the season will run its course, and pointed out the mechanics behind his thought process with ESPN’s “Get Up!” today. He explained, “I think it will be stupid to not play for two reasons. No. 1, if they don’t play, they’re gonna be out of sight, out of mind for the rest of the year. They’re gonna lose billions of dollars that the players could use to go into their own communities and do some great stuff. So, it’s not good on any part.”
Playing NBA games could actually keep the Floyd situation in the spotlight if that’s a goal of players. They can ensure that there is plenty of coverage of the ongoing conflicts during the playoffs and, as Barkley pointed out, there is a lot of money at stake that can go to support public causes.
The NBA is now just about a month away from its goal of restarting the season and finding a 2019-20 Championship team. There may be certain apprehensions to basketball making a return, but, at some point, things have to be allowed to return to normal, for everyone’s sanity. The sooner that can happen, the better.