(SportsRadio 610) -- For the first time, in a long time, sports normalcy, at least as much as there can be during a global pandemic, began to ascend over the horizon on Thursday afternoon.
The NBA Board of Governors approved by a 29-1 margin to resume the 2019-2020 NBA season at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. The players are expected to ratify the deal on their end on Friday.
The league will welcome back 22 of the 30 teams (13 in the West, 9 in the East) for a training camp throughout July, with eight regular season games for each team resuming on July 31. The entire season and postseason will conclude no later than October 12. Structurally, the only new wrinkle is a possible play-in in each conference, whereby of the 9th seed is within four games of the 8th seed at the end of the regular seaosn, the two teams will face off for the right to seize the last playoff spot. (The 9-seed would have to win twice, the 8-seed just once.)
Personally, I’m disappointed the NBA didn’t get more exotic with the structure of the whole deal, but in the end, it’s just nice to have hoops coming back. That said, I have a few more questions that have yet to be answered. Take note, NBA! Here we go….
Why are they waiting so long to resume?
It really does seem like a missed opportunity here to let the entire month of June come and go before sending players to Orlando — word is they will fly down on July 7 — especially when you consider that the NBA is voluntarily running their postseason against the first month or so of NFL football.
One reason for the delay may have to do with bringing overseas players back to the United States, as each player would be required to go into quarantine for two weeks.
How will it be broadcast?
A big reason why they are playing eight regular season games is to allow the participating teams to fulfill their contractual obligations to their regional sports networks (in Houston, that’s AT&T SportsNet). But will the broadcast partners send announcers into the bubble they’re creating in Orlando? Will national announcers be allowed in, but local announcers left at home? Also, will the league spread out games throughout the course of the day to allow fans to consume as much basketball as humanly possible. According to ESPN.com, there will be playoff basketball in afternoons on weekdays! HOLY MARCH MADNESS STYLE, BATMAN!!
Will there be any “home court advantage”?
In a traditional sense, there obviously will not be a home court advantage, as these are all neutral site games being played in front of empty arenas. Hell, even the Orlando Magic don’t get the advantage of sleeping in their own beds, as they, too, have to stay inside the figurative bubble.
The closest thing we might see to a home court advantage would be higher seeded teams getting to use their own hardwood floor with their own logo (a minor psychological thing, I suppose), and once families are allowed in the bubble, we could see some AAU tourney style family cheering sections. That’s about it.
Who gets what Disney hotel?
It’s funny, one idea the league supposedly had to try to give some sort of advantage to the higher seeded teams would be to allow them to choose which Disney property they stay at. Let me just say that I LOVE THIS, and I would want to see the “resort draft” take place simulcast on ESPN and the Disney Channel (and the Travel Channel).
Honestly, it might pop a bigger number than some of the NHL playoff games. For the record, I think the Bucks would take the Grand Floridian with the first pick, and I think the Wizards would wind up staying in those crappy cabins on the Wilderness resort property.
What if a player doesn’t want to play?
I can’t imagine that a player who would want to opt out for COVID concerns wouldn’t be allowed to, considering the NBA has been the most cautious and has long been the most player friendly of the major league sports. One thing, regarding the virus — the league is definitely not shutting down at the first sign of it, like they did in March when Rudy Gobert tested positive. They’ll have protocols in place, and they WILL get these games in.
2020-2021, what will that be like?
Well, considering that the league plans to finish up in mid-October, and start training camp for the next season in early November, with the first games on December 1, I would say next season might look pretty bedraggled and sloppy! But who the hell cares???
HOOPS IS COMING BACK!!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on “Payne and Pendergast” from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays.