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.