NBA Explores Ways To Get Their Premier Players Back In The Game
It is one of those sports topics that is sure to come up as a trivia question in 20 or 30 years’ time if it goes ahead.
Where were the NBA Finals held at the end of the 2019-2020 season?
According to a plan that the NBA is very seriously considering because of Coronavirus, the answer could well be Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
While on the surface this idea seems extremely far-fetched, if you get down to the details there is actually a lot that makes sense. The problem with the US – as opposed to some other countries that have returned to sports sin home stadiums – is the sheer size of the country, the number of different population centers with very different infection rates, and how lock-down measures are simply different in different places.
That is why the bubble idea that was first mooted by the league at the very start of the pandemic has plenty of merit. Initially, it was Las Vegas that was suggested as a potential site, but that just felt like a recipe for disaster even if the casinos and bars were closed. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney World Resort, however, is a totally different proposition that could see the premier players of the NBA back on the court as soon as the end of July.
The format of the league is still up in the air. Options range from playing out the league in full to jumping straight into the playoffs with either a regular or expanded field. Fans will not be allowed to sit in the stands and watch the games and the players will be quarantined – and tested frequently – to prevent any outbreaks of the disease from premier players who have been spending the last few months in different regions of the country get together.
This is a part of the country and a facility that is well set up for the unique challenges presented in this climate. The Orlando Invitational Tournament that features NCAA teams has been a fixture of the college basketball tournament scene for a while and Jay Young – the head coach of Fairfield who played in the tournament last season – thinks that this is a proposal that could work.
“It’s a good idea. There is plenty of space and courts. The hotel space down there is as good as you’re going to get in the country. I thought it made a lot of sense, especially if you want to try to keep the players and staff as safe as possible,” Young said.
Basketball feels like it is uniquely set up for a single host site event like this at the professional level. One problem with playing football or soccer in a bubble this way is field space. Basketball courts are able to take plenty of wear and tear that grass specifically just couldn’t sustain. The heavy use of teams training and playing on the same courts each day until the season is concluded is something that works far better on a wooden court than on any other surface in professional sports.
If this plan goes ahead it will be very interesting to see how premier players like LeBron James and Steph Curry react to playing in an environment that is basically a field house/multi-use sports complex. The HP Field House – which would likely serve as the main venue – has around 5,000 (empty) seats. This is obviously very different to an NBA arena which would average around 18,000 seats and which is filled with the history and prestige that comes with being such a venue. These spaces will be smaller and much more intimate, which could make it easier for players but could certainly also affect the way that certain players play the game.
One of the most interesting aspects of this crisis has been to see how sports leagues have adapted and adjusted to getting their premier players back in action. The NBA plan is the most unique out there (so far) and it will be fascinating to see if it is put into action.
Article by Premier Players