by Andrew Riddle, Sports Writer
On March 11, 2020, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the remainder of the 2019-2020 regular season would be indefinitely suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commissioner, top NBA executives, players and coaches fought to restart the remainder of the season. After nearly three months of planning, the announcement was made that the NBA would resume the remainder of its season inside a “bubble environment” in Orlando, Florida, at the ESPN World of Sports at Disney World.
The bubble was to consist of the top eleven teams from each conference, automatically eliminating eight teams from playoff contention. The twenty-two teams were each to play eight regular season games. Those games were to determine the top eight (possibly nine) teams in each conference to start the playoffs. If the team with the ninth best record was within four games of the eighth seeded team, then the teams would play each other in a series to determine which club would enter the playoffs.
The Eastern Conference’s playoff teams were final after the eight games; however, the Western Conference’s Portland Trailblazers and Memphis Grizzlies were to play in a series to determine the playoff team. The Grizzlies would have to win two straight games in order to be the eighth seeded team, but the Trailblazers would only need to win one game. Portland won in a down-to-the-wire finish, and therefore grabbed the eighth seed in the Western Conference Playoff Race, clinching a best of seven series matchup with the top seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
The League announced they would not only be handing out regular season awards, but also “bubble awards”. The League would be awarding all-bubble teams and bubble MVP. Damian Lillard of the Trailblazers was awarded bubble MVP award averaging 37.6 points and 9.6 assists during the restart.
Our country has faced plenty of adversity during 2020. As well as a global pandemic, racial injustice issues have caused a stir among not only our country’s leaders, but also many professional athletes. The tragic death of George Floyd resulted in several NBA stars deciding not to play in the restart. For example, Brooklyn Nets guard, Kyrie Irving, said that black players returning to play would take eyes off the Black Lives Matter Movement and therefore he opted not to participate in Orlando. After the shooting of a black man resisting arrest, the players in the bubble boycotted games on August 25 in solidarity with the victim. However, the League resumed play on Saturday, August 29.
The plan to resume the NBA season at Disney World was interesting but has proved productive and entertaining. The League has reported zero positive Covid tests since the first week players arrived when two players tested positive. Both on and off the court, the bubble has been entertaining and eye-opening. If the NBA Bubble is any proof of a safe and productive plan, we may begin to see other leagues across the country and world do the same if the spread of COVID-19 is not slowed.