The wait is almost over for the return of the National Basketball Association (NBA) to conclude their 2020 season. Traditionally in June, the NBA season would already be in NBA Finals and the season would be over by now.
Recently, the NBA presented a 22-team plan for restarting the season to the league’s board of governors which was ultimately approved and the season will resume at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, FL.
The teams that will be going to Orlando, Florida would play eight games to determine playoff seeding starting around July 31 before the postseason begins. The playoffs are all scheduled as traditional best-of-seven series. The Eastern Conference teams that are invited to finish out the season are: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards. The Western Conference teams that are invited are: Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Utah Jazz.
The NBA suspended its season March 11, 2020, becoming the first of the U.S. major pro leagues to do so after it became known that Utah’s All-Star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving who is also the vice president of the Players’ Association, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley helped form a player’s coalition to raise concerns about restarting the NBA and WNBA season (the 2020 WNBA season and playoffs will be played at IMG Academy) in Central Florida; amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and with the national conversation focused on addressing systemic racism and police brutality. Their coalition stated: "As an oppressed community we are going on 500-plus years of being systemically targeted, used for our IP/Talent, and also still being killed by the very people that are supposed to 'protect and serve' us. WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
We are combating the issues that matter most: We will not accept the racial injustices that continue to be ignored in our communities. We will not be kept in the dark when it comes to our health and well-being. And we will not ignore the financial motivations/expectations that have prevented us historically from making sound decisions. This is not about individual players, athletes or entertainers. This is about our group of strong men and women uniting for change. We have our respective fields; however, we will not just shut up and play to distract us from what this whole system has been about: Use and Abuse.”
On the flip side to these risks of resuming basketball in Orlando, there are consequences to canceling the season that could devastate the salary structure for now and the future of the NBA. There are talks that there may even be a lockout. Money is not the most important factor for many players. Some NBA players are ready to back out of the restart plan, and the league has said they can back out without fear of punishment. If that is the case, the players won’t get paid. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
How many players will stay home rather than go to Orlando? Will it be enough to kill the restart of the season? Their choice will impact the NBA for years to come.
If the season does indeed continue, the timeline will be:
• July 30th - August 14: Eight game regular season per team will begin.
• August 15th -16th: The two-game play-in series to determine the No. 8 seed in each conference, if necessary.
• August 17th: Playoffs begin.
• August 31st - September 13th: Conference semifinals.
• September 15th -28th: Conference finals.
• September 30th - October 13th: NBA Finals.