The NBA season delayed its play on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and after 100 plus days there is finally a plan to bring professional basketball back.
Play is set to resume on July 30. Walt Disney World Resort will be hosting the players, staff, personnel and games. All individuals traveling with the teams will be required to stay on the grounds until the season’s end.
As for the season itself, there will be an eight-game regular season that will result in playoff seeding between 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern conference teams. The eight best teams in each conference will make the playoffs, as per usual.
If the eight and nine seeds are within four games of one another at the end of the regular season, this will result in a play-in tournament. The two teams would battle for the eight seed in the tournament. The nine seed would need to beat the eight seed twice to steal the spot, whereas the eight seed would only need to win once to secure the playoff spot.
After the top-eight teams in each conference are decided, the playoffs will begin under normal format of play. This could lead the NBA season into going until mid-October for a game seven of the NBA finals, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“It’s more of a sense from the entire NBA community that we have to try this,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver on ESPN’s Sportscenter “Return of Sports” special. “The alternative is to stay on the sideline. And the alternative is to, in essence, give into the virus.”
The NBA will be taking all precautions necessary to guarantee this season goes as safe and smooth for all individuals at risk. This starts with daily testing and ensuring individuals do not leave “the bubble,” the name used to refer to the onsite campus.
If a player or staff member does test positive for the virus, they will be immediately isolated from the team while all other members will continue to be tested. There is a similar protocol in place if someone is to leave the bubble, in that they must be isolated from the team for at least 10 days before they can rejoin the team. If either of these scenarios do happen, the season will not be put on pause for any individual player.
Players do have the option to exercise their right not to join the team for this season, as they would have to be away from their families for an extended period of time. The deadline for players to make this decision was on June 24, and several players did exercise this right.
Kyrie Irving, Avery Bradley and Trevor Ariza are among the list. All had a variety of reasons for choosing not to participate, whether it was for their family or their way of showing support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“At a time like this, I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk,” said Bradley, a guard for the Lakers, on his Twitter account.
The bubble does come complete with several different amenities and activities for the players. Video games, ping pong, pool access, golf courses, boating and fishing, special movie screenings, guest DJ’s and stand-up comedians are among the options.
League-approved team chefs, hair braiders and barbers will also be allowed on resort grounds.
The full regular season schedule can be found at https://stats.nba.com/schedule/.