The NBA Bubble was a Massive Success
Origins of the Bubble
On March 11, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tests positive for the coronavirus before a game between the Jazz and OKC Thunder. This positive test forced the NBA to suspend 2019-20 indefinitely. As a LA Laker fan, I was dejected because we were finally back among the elite in the NBA with a chance of winning the title, but I understood this was the best thing to do for all those involved with the game. But, the NBA brought life to the bubble.
Fast forward to June 4, the NBA Governors voted to restart the season in Orlando, Florida (Walt Disney World Resort) and NBA Players Association approved the restart on June 5. This playing area would come to be known as The Bubble. 22 teams were invited to the bubble: 16 teams in playoff position and 6 teams within 6 games of the last playoff spot in each conference.
NBA spent more than $150 million to set up the bubble in Orlando. The league is providing meals, arranged seven practice courts, transportation, security but more importantly daily coronavirus testing and other medical support for more than 1,500 people. Although the league is projected to lose more than 1 billion dollars, this bubble would allow the league to prevent further losses from their TV revenue and the players would retain over $600 million in salary that would’ve been lost if the season was canceled.
A Recipe for Success
The NBA did some good things with how the game would across on TV. The lack of fans allowed the NBA to have more daring camera angles. The new camera angles were inspired by the NBA 2K video game. For example, the ‘on-court’ angle which allows fans to have a levelheaded view of the court. It looks like how it would if you were physically standing on the court. Fans have recognized that these new camera angles make the game look cooler and helps them better connect to the game. Hopefully, the NBA can find a way to keep these angles when basketball returns to normal.
When it was announced that the league would resume playing it was met with some resistance due to the social uproar that was happening at the same time within our country. The NBA, the NBA Players Association, and the teams worked together to use the bubble as a platform for the Black Lives Matter movement. The NBA also allowed players to replace the names on the backs of their jerseys with a meaningful statement of their choice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On August 26, the players took a stronger stance against social injustice when the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Their impromptu action was in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This would set in motion a boycott of games in all sports to include WNBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, and tennis.
Hoopin’ Like It’s Rec League
Let’s get to the games. During the seeding games, we saw a Phoenix team go undefeated (8-0) and come within 1 game of being in the play in-game for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Although Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns were a pleasant surprise, Damian Lillard was the standout star within the bubble during the seeding games as he led the Portland Trailblazers to the 8th and final playoff spot by averaging 37.6 points and 9.6 assists as the Blazers went 6-2.
Overall the NBA bubble has been a success and the league found a way to make it all work during the season restart. The games were competitive, the look on TV was outstanding and players embraced the bubble concept and made it work. The most important part of the bubble is that to date the NBA has had no players test positive for coronavirus. The NBA’s idea of a bubble prompted the NHL to adopt the bubble concept to finish their season and MLB used the bubble concept for their playoffs and World Series games. The Orlando bubble has worked almost flawlessly as the Lakers and the Miami Heat have advanced to the Finals.
Levanstian “Lee” Brown for Thread Head Media
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