The NBA is finally close to a restart. The league has created a social bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where 22 teams will play out their remaining games. It sounds great on paper, but there are several problems that could affect the return.
We already saw several players who have chosen to opt out of the restart. This is just one of the major issues that could burst the NBA’s bubble. From player issues inside the Disney World to the chaos of the world outside, there are so many potential problems out there. We hope it all goes smoothly, but it’s naive to pretend these issues aren’t there. Check out 20 problems that could burst the NBA’s bubble via ESNY.
20. Injury Risk
First of all, injuries are likely to be a clear and present issue in the NBA bubble. Nobody has played for three months, so their conditioning will not be the highest level. This means there’s likely to be an increase in muscular issues during the restart.
If we use the return of soccer leagues in Europe as an example, more players are suffering adductor strains and similar injuries. Furthermore, with a tightly-packed schedule, players will face a significant amount of intensity. This will make it even more difficult for their bodies to fully recover.
The first wave of the current health crisis is still ongoing. But if it comes back with a vengeance then it may be unfeasible to stay inside the bubble. There are 350 players in the bubble as well as hundreds of more coaches and bubble support staff.
All of these people have families and will be concerned about what is going on in the outside world. Ironically, this is the one year where some players might be happy to leave the playoffs early. They’ll want to make their money and make it home safely.
Being stuck in the same place with the same people away from your family is not everybody’s idea of fun. In fact, some would consider it similar to a jail. Obviously NBA players earn millions of dollars and have the choice not to be there, but it still could have a negative effect on some.
Tensions could flare between teammates while it’s not inconceivable that others will feel unhappy after being away from their families for so long. For all the safety precautions that are there, it’s still not the most amazing place for anybody’s longterm mental health.
We’ve already talked about the increased risk of injury, but there’s another clear problem with the lack of action. Teams just won’t be at their sharpest. It’s almost guaranteed that the first few games will be disjointed and lacking.
It may take a couple of games for teams to get back in sync after so long without practice and playing. Of course, this does create the opportunity for upsets. If some of the second-tier teams can recover their senses quicker, they may be able to stun one of the favorites.
Will team spirit be the same inside the bubble? In an ideal world, it should only improve because teammates are in close proximity with almost a boot camp mentality. However, in the real world, people aren’t like that. There will be several athletes missing.
This could have an effect on those that go to Disney World. Meanwhile, you don’t really get to know somebody until you spend time with them day in and day out. In short, this is more than just practice every day. These players are closer to each other than ever before.
Ok, this one obviously isn’t life or death, but it does reflect the sudden lifestyle changes that NBA players will have to adapt to. Inside the bubble, things will not be the way they expect. According to The Ringer, the most high-maintenance basketball stars will cut their hair every five days.
Furthermore, the average amount of money spent is $75. Somehow we don’t think the NBA will allow 350 players to bring their individual barbers into the bubble. What we’re saying is that this will definitely push some of the athletes out of their comfort zone.
Don’t forget it’s not just the players we have to care about. There are hundreds of other people inside the bubble at Disney World. Furthermore, they’re all from different age groups and many may have medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the current health crisis.
All it takes is for one person to get sick, then they pass it onto another person. And another person. They spread it to other people too. The next thing you know the NBA Playoffs have turned into a George A. Romero movie. But in all seriousness, organizers are aware of how fine a line they’re treading.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world continues as normal outside of the bubble. Except for the fact that in 2020 there is no such thing as normal. Social unrest has spread across America as many demand equal opportunities and an end to discrimination.
In fact, several players have justified their absence from Orlando for this reason. NBA teams and players made their presence felt at the recent protests. They will feel divided if they escalate again and several may choose to leave the bubble. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Something that could contribute to stale play on the court is the lack of atmosphere. As LeBron James said, what is a sport without fans? He did eventually change his tune, but it is a good point. Imagine that two teams are tied with a couple of minutes to go in a playoff game.
If there were fans present the noise would be off the scale and the atmosphere would be electric. Now the players will have to motivate themselves. Will it even feel real to them without supporters there? You will hear their voices clearer than ever on TV.
Forget about cabin fever for a moment and just think about life inside the bubble itself. These athletes want the absolute best of everything, from what they eat, to the clothes that they wear, there is no price too steep for them. It’s been a rough start so far.
Throughout the quarantine period, there have been multiple complaints regarding the quality of food. One anonymous player even posted images to Twitter. However, organizers assured them that once they clear quarantine, there will be many restaurant options for them to choose from.
Several teams will question the fairness of the return. For example, the Brooklyn Nets are missing a host of key players due to the health crisis and regular injuries. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley is a loss for the Lakers.
The NBA is allowing teams to replace players who chose to opt out. However, the combination of new systems and new teammates means this isn’t exactly ideal. It will only disrupt the balance of teams and reduce the quality of basketball fans get to watch from home.
While we’ve spent most of the time talking about the players and teams in the bubble, we haven’t mentioned the ones who didn’t have the choice to go to Orlando at all. The NBA only invited 22 teams to Orlando, with the rest told to enjoy their vacation. This is controversial.
Sure, they have nothing to play for in terms of playoff hopes. However, for the sake of pride, player development, and financial gain, it’s not exactly fair. There was discussion of a second bubble for these absentee teams but that appears to have fallen by the wayside.
Why is the NBA pushing so hard for a restart? Because of money. One of the most pressing issues is their TV deal with ESPN. They must meet the terms of that arrangement or they’ll lose a lot of cash. Furthermore, there are other pressures.
Money makes the world go around. But if the health situation escalates or several high-profile stars decide to opt-out then it will have a significant impact on their revenues. The past couple of months have impacted their coffers. In sum, they don’t want things to get worse.
This is one of the more real threats to the restart. If more players choose to opt out, then the entire project could become untenable. Adam Silver and his executives know that all it takes is for a pin to burst the bubble and floods of players may leave.
For the league’s return to be a commercial success, you need as many stars as possible. Can you imagine Minnesota without Giannis or the Lakers without LeBron? It just wouldn’t be the same at all. Keeping the best athletes fit, healthy, and onboard is essential.
Stephen A. Smith was the first to make this point. While he often spouts nonsense, this is actually an interesting point when you think about it. NBA stars won’t have access to their wives and girlfriends in the bubble.
That means, if you go deep into the playoffs you won’t be able to have any bedroom fun for about two months. For these virile young men, that’s a long time. In the UK, several soccer players snuck sex workers into their homes. Let’s hope nobody is that stupid in the House of Mouse.
Family issues forced Zion Williamson to leave the bubble. This is one thing you have no control over. In normal circumstances, your team would grant you permission to go home and return when the dust has settled. That’s not an option right now.
Players will have to quarantine again if they want to return to Orlando. If you’re playing for a team like the Pelicans then there might not even be any point because they’re up against it in the race for the playoffs. It would be a tough end to an up-and-down rookie year for Williamson.
With 350 millionaires in one place, that’s surely a tempting target for the less savory members of our society. Furthermore, everybody knows where they will be. Security has to be at its maximum in order to ensure the safety of the bubble.
That’s before we even talk about testing. The problem with bubbles is that they pop. This entire set-up is very vulnerable. Let’s hope that the security is up to snuff because it would be terrible if something preventable derailed the restart.
The NBA picked an interesting place to restart because of the time of year as well. Hurricane season is fast approaching. Florida is in the line of fire and vulnerable to natural disaster. What could be more 2020 than a hurricane blasting through Disney World?
Even if the chances of one appearing and doing major damage appear slim, the NBA is operating on a tight schedule. They don’t have the time to reschedule games. All that they can do is hope nothing like this will happen.
The NBA is desperate for the league to maximize the opportunity they have. With limited live sports available, basketball will definitely soar in the ratings. As the second-most popular sport in the country behind football, this is a chance to close the gap.
With that comes more pressure. First of all, can they put on the kind of production that draws a new and expanded audience with no fans? While it might not derail the restart, they know they need to take full advantage of the situation they’re in.
We’ve alluded to this already, but it is definitely the number one concern. Florida is currently the epicenter of the current health crisis in the United States. Is it even possible to keep the sickness out of Disney World? So many people are there, it’s like a petri dish.
Only time will tell if everybody stays safe or not, because details about the crisis are so hazy. Don’t forget there are people bringing food and other necessities into this zone so the risk will only increase as the numbers in the area rise. This is what could burst the bubble.