Gather ’round everyone, because the NBA will be back, baby!
It has been roughly three months after Rudy Gobert’s fateful positive coronavirus test derailed the 2019 – 2020 season, causing the first major stoppage of league play since the infamous lockout back in 2011. Many people have since called for the league to return, but commissioner Adam Silver elected to ignore it in favor of making sure that they could ensure the players and staffs’ safety.
Now, the NBA is looking to make its triumphant return after months of rumors and reports about their comeback. The league announced in a memo today that they are in talks with Disney to resume the season in Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While there’s still so much to figure out before the tentative July return date, this is a welcome development for everyone involved. There’s a few people, however, who would greatly benefit from this news.
Los Angeles Lakers
Most franchises with a multi-year playoff drought don’t have title aspirations. The Lakers are an exceptional exception to this rule, however. The illustrious franchise has spoiled its fans with multiple titles with players such as Magic, Kobe, Shaq, and Kareem. For Lakers fans, a season without a championship is similar to them being run over by a 12-wheeler, twice.
This season, they were so close to not being flattened by a truck for the sixth straight season. The Lakers, behind the star-studded duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, have been tearing it up with their modernized brand of the Showtime Offense and a much-improved defense. The balance between their rock-solid offense and suffocating defense had them squarely in title contention… until the world collapsed in on itself and forced everyone inside.
When the season finally resumes, the Lakers will have the opportunity to capture their first title since 2010, Kobe’s last title. It would be a fitting tribute for the untimely demise of the franchise’s greatest player earlier this season.
Imagine this: you’re an NBA superstar, one blessed with Reacher Grabber limbs and the physique of a Greek god. You just won your first NBA MVP, and this season, you turned it up to a whole new level. Your team is routinely blowing out the other teams, resulting in the best record in the NBA. The team that eliminated you last season lost their star player, making you the huge favorite not only to make it out of your conference but to actually win it all. And as an added bonus, you have the chance to make history by being the third winner of the MVP and DPOY award in the same year. Everything was going well for you, but that all changed when COVID-19 attacked the NBA.
Okay, so not all of us can really put ourselves in Giannis’ giant shoes. We all know, though, that the Greek Freak is just raring to go out and capture his first title. He’s hungrier than ever, and while we know him to prioritize his team over individual glory, he would love to get a chance to cement his legacy early in his career.
We have been robbed of some good-ass NBA games this season.
This season was the most competitive season we have witnessed since Golden State went full Thanos on the league and snapped everyone’s title hopes away. With the Warriors losing their dominant grip on the league due to the departure of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and Steph Curry’s injuries, the race to the top is very much open. Contenders like the Lakers and the Clippers were suddenly built overnight, while other teams like the Bucks and the Nuggets retained their cores from last season. Surprise contenders started showing up as well (Raptors, Celtics, Heat, Rockets, and Sixers), all bolstered by in-house development, key additions, or a combination of both. Even the other playoff contenders have upset potential written all over them; the Mavs, Nets, Jazz, and Pacers can all take games from their opponents and knock them out of contention.
All of these factors set us up for an absolutely cutthroat post-season – a battle to the death between the league’s best squads. The coronavirus situation took all of these away from us NBA fans last March, but a resumption of the season would give us the best quarantine gift we could ask for.
The NBA Player Base
The current situation has also massive implications on the business side of things. The NBA was already projected to lose a significant chunk of revenue due to the Rockets-China fiasco earlier this year, but the recent developments only deepened the wound. With no games being played in the arenas, the league misses out on the arena revenue (ticket sales, food, and beverage sales) and television revenue.
This meant that the salaries of a lot of players are going to take a hit to their salaries in the future. The salary cap in the NBA is directly proportional to its basketball-related revenue. Even if the league decides to smoothen the lost revenue over time, there will be less money to go around. The 2020 free agency class figures to be the ones most affected because teams will offer less money for them.
This is, perhaps, the biggest reason why players were lobbying to resume the season: to salvage what’s left of an undesirable situation for the sake of all the stakeholders of the league.
Team and Arena Staffers
Let’s be real, though: the people I mentioned above aren’t the ones who are affected by the COVID-19 storm the hardest.
Most, if not all of the players and coaching staff in the league are financially stable, with paychecks from past seasons to help them survive without work. But they aren’t the only ones who aren’t getting any work – some team and arena staff have to go through the COVID-calypse without a secure source of income.
These people are the ones who keep your favorite team running and make your viewing experience in the arenas enjoyable. These include athletic trainers, clock operators, team attendants, snack vendors, and even the half-time dancers. They usually have hourly salaries or are barely making enough money to sustain a family, and now, they’ve lost the job that keeps them alive.
Many players and team owners have pledged to cover the salaries of these staffers, which is incredibly considerate of them. However, a $100 000 donation that will be divvied up to some 50 or so people is going to last them a month at most, considering that the average cost of living for a four-person family is at around $4,500. Restarting the league will be a good first step to helping the people who support and make the game more watchable for us.
A Big But
The NBA has done well taking it slow and not rushing their decision-making.
Safety should be their number one priority, and it does seem like the league is on the right track. Adam Silver has done everything in his power to secure testing for NBA staff without compromising mass testing in the US. He’s also put out strict guidelines for teams to make sure their employees are safe while they’re keeping themselves in shape, and the NBA is cooperating with health and government officials to ensure the players’ and staff’s safety.
There’s a lot that can happen in the two months between now and the projected return date of the NBA. Silver should make sure that the risks are mitigated in those two months, or else this could all come crashing down and the NBA could be in a worse position than they are in right now.