It’s been just over a week since the NBA suspended the remainder of its season, the first of any professional sports leagues to do. That means that as individuals around the country isolate themselves, they don’t have one of their natural sources of entertainment in sports.
Adam Silver spoke with Rachel Nichols on ESPN on Wednesday about the NBA’s role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. In terms of promoting health and safety, the league took the lead in suspending its games and has worked with players to put out messages regarding social distancing and self-quarantining during this period. By acknowledging the severity of this crisis, the NBA implicitly encouraged others to do the same.
But as Silver noted, the league has another role to play in terms of its impact on the national psyche. People turn to sports for an escape, and young people in particular are drawn to the NBA. There is a real void in our lives without basketball.
That’s why, when asked about how the league could potentially restart this season, Silver said the NBA is exploring the idea of exhibitions that could be played as fundraisers. Tom Ziller suggested a 3-on-3 tournament with two teams bringing five players each, and then playing multiple sets of regional games. In Ziller’s mock, the Clippers would have Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Lou Williams play against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers.
I was going to suggest debating which Clippers you think would do best in a 3-on-3 setting, but let’s be clear — this is the obvious option. The two bench players could be an interesting discussion, though. Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, and Montrezl Harrell all pose valuable cases, as do Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson. If you have any thoughts, let us know in the comments.
Silver was very clear to not promise anything regarding the NBA’s plans, not even committing to a return this season, though he remains hopeful. As the commissioner said, “When people do pretend they can predict the future, they’re generally wrong.”
It was nice to hear Silver acknowledge what is missing in our world without sports, and without the NBA. For long-suffering Clippers fans especially, this season was so special. To see it taken away hurts, even if it is the right decision for the public’s health.
Fortunately, the league has always tried to innovate. That will be necessary now more than ever.