By Matthew Wong
Almost three months after the suspension of its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has its sights set on restarting the season in order to crown a champion. The NBA was the first sports league in North America to halt play in hopes of combatting the coronavirus, which has taken over 100,000 lives in the United States alone. After decreases in hospitalizations and dramatic slowing of the spread of the disease throughout the country, professional sports were given the green light to begin to resume activities, with restrictions. Even though the plan to restart the season is not perfect, Adam Silver, the NBA’s commissioner, asserted that there are monetary benefits to the players and owners to resume play.
On Thursday, June 4th, the NBA presented their plan to team owners. The plan is the culmination of discussions, input, and feedback from team executives, players, and other NBA representatives, and it details the most realistic way of competing while also maintaining the safety of all players and staff. After receiving approval from team owners, the plan must be backed by the National Basketball Players Association. Then, 22 out of the 30 teams will report to Walt Disney World in Florida in late July. There, the nine Eastern Conference and thirteen Western Conference teams would each play eight games, with no fans in attendance. At the end of these games, the top eight teams in each conference will move onto the playoffs. However, if the ninth seed is within four games via their record of the eighth seed, a play-in tournament will occur. In this tournament, the ninth seed in the conference would need to beat the eighth seed twice in a row to wrest the final playoff spot away. Once the playoff teams are determined, the season would continue with its typical structure: four best-of-seven rounds to crown an NBA champion. The dates are still tentative, but signs point towards the season starting at the end of July and concluding in the middle of October.
Adam Silver has made it clear that the safety of all players and staff is the top priority as the league plans to resume. The logistics of a virus testing program, housing for members of each team, and response to a positive case within the league are still being worked out. However, by allowing only 22 of the 30 teams to play, the probability of players contracting the virus will be lower with fewer players interacting. In addition, the number of personnel that can travel to Disney will be reduced from the usual fifty people to a party of thirty-five, including the players.
Although nothing is set in stone, the likelihood of the NBA resuming its season is trending upwards. After the completion of the season, the NBA draft would follow in late October and free agency would open shortly after. With the necessary precautions taken, the restarting of the NBA season will give people an escape from the current stresses of the world.
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