The NBA has nearly pulled off the improbable by successfully completing its season (playoffs included) without a single player or member of the league staff testing positive for the coronavirus in the bubble. They created a protocol and adhered to it while strictly disciplining those who broke the rules, and in doing so, laid out a template for how to play professional sports during a pandemic.
Most other sports haven’t followed that model, though, because playing in a bubble is hard. It requires families to sacrifice; it extracts a mental toll. That’s why no one expects the NBA to go through with this plan again, no matter how successful it happened to be.
It also means that the NBA has a lot of work to do to create a set-up for next season, when players will likely be in their home markets and thus not under the league’s watchful eye. There are decisions to be made regarding safety procedures, salary cap, the schedule itself, and the continuation of social justice efforts, among other details. The league and the players’ association proved that they could work together to create the bubble, but the upcoming task could be even more difficult.
Commissioner Adam Silver and NPBA executive director Michele Roberts expect to come to a deal, but they also expect negotiations to be arduous. Roberts spoke with The Athletic about some of the issues the league has to reckon with for the 2020-21 season. It’s an interesting read, but it mostly indicates that there is much work to be done before NBA basketball will be played again with all 30 teams. Let’s hope for the best.
More news for Thursday:
- Congrats to Montrezl Harrell, who won the 2019-20 NBA Hustle Award. This is the fourth year the award has been given, and Patrick Beverley was in the inaugural recipient in 2016-17.
- Another opus on Sue Bird, the age-defying conductor of the Seattle Storm.
- The L.A. Times looked back at the final Los Angeles sports weekend in March before the pandemic took control.
- Michael Pina ranked his 10 best dunks of the postseason. This is a fun list.
- The Wall Street Journal examined how athletes are conquering distance.
- Eric Nehm shared some thoughts on Darvin Ham, a candidate to be the new Clippers head coach.
- Shane Battier goes in on diversity, or the lack thereof, in NBA analytics.