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Clippings: Could another bubble be in the NBA’s future?

At this point, it’s hard to imagine a successful season any other way.

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Sacramento Kings v LA Clippers Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA has had a promising start to its bubble season. Other than isolated incidents of unappetizing food — or people going outside of the bubble to procure more desirable food — the experiment has to be considered a success so far. The safety protocols have worked to keep the coronavirus away from the NBA campus, players and other personnel have the ability to leave and come back in an expeditious fashion, and everyone involved seems to be enjoying themselves.

Coupled with the fact that both American professional soccer leagues have either staged bubble tournaments or are currently in the process of completing said tournaments, and there is substantial proof of concept in this model for playing sports during a pandemic.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball took a different approach to its 2020 season, and it is blowing up in the league’s face. Allowing players to reside in their home markets has put the entire league at risk of contracting the coronavirus, and it’s unclear if and how the season can continue under these circumstances.

That’s something that the NBA, specifically NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, has taken notice of. Roberts told ESPN Tuesday that, at present, she can’t really envision a way of holding a 2020-21 NBA season without a bubble:

“If tomorrow looks like today, I don’t know how we say we can do it differently,” Roberts told ESPN in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “If tomorrow looks like today, and today we all acknowledge — and this is not Michele talking, this is the league, together with the PA and our respective experts saying, ‘This is the way to do it’ — then that’s going to have to be the way to do it.”

It’s hard to imagine players willingly consenting to this set-up again, especially for a much longer period of time to accommodate an entire regular season. Maybe baseball course corrects and figures out a way to ensure the safety of the players and everyone else involved. Maybe football finds the solution. For now, there is no template. Only the bubble has proven effective.

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