The NBA Bubble, How It’s Working and What They’re Doing Right

Image+via+Flickr

Image via Flickr

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Writer

 

The NBA Bubble is awesome.

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which caused sports worldwide to be postponed, no one was certain if or when sports would resume. When the NBA season was suspended in March, fans and players alike were left wondering when we’d see live basketball again. Over four months later, the NBA organized a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World in Orlando.

Players are tested regularly and must quarantine upon arrival. There are rigorous precautions, and the virus is taken very seriously. August 5th marked three consecutive weeks of no positive tests in the NBA Bubble. There have been no positive tests since the first round of initial testing between July 7-13. Between the strict testing, social distancing and restricted areas, the Bubble has clearly worked so far. Official games started on July 30, and the league is now heading towards the playoffs.

These recent games have been a basketball fan’s paradise. Games are played all day long, tipping off as early as 11 a.m. Mountain Time and running as late as 11 p.m. Twelve straight hours of hoops all day, every day. I’ve been watching as much as I can, and I’ve been extremely impressed with the quality of play, production quality and competitive energy.

While there are no fans physically present, the team designated as the home squad has their fans virtually attend as they are live streamed onto the board behind the court. Cheers are played over the speakers to simulate a home crowd, and several commentators were brought into the Bubble to give fans at home the closest thing to a real broadcast as possible.

Players are excited to be back on the court. There have been tons of close games already and they all matter greatly. The race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference is heating up with six teams all still in the hunt. It’s sure to come down to the final day of the seeding games.

Amidst this new format, there has been one clear message from the league — Black Lives Matter. The players were adamant about sending a social justice message with their return to play, and the league has done a good job of allowing players to have their voices heard. Black Lives Matter is written on every court in large lettering. Players have chosen messages to wear on the back of their jerseys, advocating for change. There are multiple different commercials running that deliver statements from players and coaches. They are using their media availability to speak on things that matter to them. The majority of players, coaches and referees are showing their support by kneeling, arm in arm, for the national anthem. The increased attention on the league is allowing players an even bigger spotlight to speak on important issues in our country, and the NBA has allowed them their rights to deliver a message, loud and clear.

This pandemic has brought a different time where more people are at home, there are no fans at the arena and all the teams are in one place. Despite the changes, this new format has offered a successful return to play for the NBA among all the challenges of containing the virus, speaking on important issues and navigating an ever-complicated national climate. The league has done a great job with the NBA Bubble, and I’m excited for it to continue into the playoffs. It only gets better from here.

 

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