When the NBA decided to restart its season after hitting pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, there were many concerns.
Most of the issues revolved around player safety and well-being, given the lack of knowledge about the coronavirus and the fact that over a dozen players had publicly tested positive for COVID-19 in the days after the league shut down. There were also worries that resuming the season would distract from the fight for social justice. It seemed like the league was simply returning to business to avoid a substantial financial hit, consequences be damned.
In fairness, the primary objective of playing out the season in the bubble was to make money. It was not to crown a champion, it was not to demonstrate the safety protocols necessary to move forward during the pandemic, and it was not to shine a light on the social injustice that plagues Black communities in the United States.
The goal was to recoup revenue, and the NBA succeeded. Per Sports Business Journal, the bubble allowed the league to stave off $1.5 billion in projected revenue loss that was mostly tied to local and national television contracts. Considering the NBA spent $180 million to construct the bubble, it was a worthy investment.
None of that would have mattered had the league not kept its personnel safe, however, and it’s important to acknowledge that this was not a craven money grab by the NBA. The NBA and its partners wanted to go back to work because of financial motivations, but they didn’t put the players or anyone else in harm’s way in service of that goal. They kept the players healthy and gave them a platform to talk about social justice along the way.
There were many doubts about the viability of the bubble at the outset, but it worked. Hopefully, it never has to happen again.
More news for Tuesday:
- Seth Partnow identified the best 125 players in the NBA and is placing them in tiers at The Athletic. The methodology is quite interesting and worth a deeper read. Tier 5 features Clippers fan favorite Ivica Zubac.
- Mirin Fader profiled Oregon State sophomore Andrea Aquino and the lengths to which recruiters will go to build prep powerhouses.
- In other sports news, my personal favorite athlete Alex Morgan is attempting a comeback five months after giving birth. Katie Whyatt dove deep into the sports science of how mothers return to athletic competition.
- Congrats to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will be representing the National League for the third time in four years in the World Series. You can keep up with all things Dodgers at True Blue LA, where our own Blake Harris has been covering the team all season.