NBA teams are approaching or at the quarter-mark of the condensed 2020-21 regular season. Through the opening stretch of games, 22 postponements have already unfolded across the league due to the NBA’s attempts to curtail the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With those figures in mind, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix explained this week why he supports a return to a bubble-like atmosphere for the NBA.
A month into the season, and I can only draw one conclusion: The NBA blew it. The decision to play games in home markets has been a failure. Dozens of games have been postponed. Countless more have been impacted by player absences. A 72-game season for many teams is a pipe dream. The ticket revenue squeezed out of a handful of arenas has been overshadowed by daily disruptions. The unwillingness to eat the cost of a closed-campus environment has come at a greater price.
The Trail Blazers, who endured two postponements last week as the Grizzlies underwent enhanced contact tracing, have not escaped the fast-changing circumstances that have popped up this season.
Mannix, outside of making his own case for the bubble, checked in with a handful of players and coaches. Both Aaron Gordon and George Hill detailed their views on a return to a bubble inside SI’s feature.
Across the NBA, a return to bubble life is picking up supporters. “It’s starting to get janky,” tweeted Aaron Gordon. “I’d be cool with a bubble if it was in the Bahamas or Hawaii and we got to bring our family/wife or girlfriend.” George Hill didn’t go that far, but when the NBA announced stricter protocols this month the Thunder guard declared, “If it’s that serious, then maybe we shouldn’t be playing.”
Near the conclusion of the story, Mannix pointed out that it is not too late for the NBA to change course following a month full of COVID-related postponements and exposures.
Here’s the thing—a bubble is still an option. The infrastructure is in place. The G League is scheduled to start its season on the Disney campus next month. There are no indications the coronavirus pandemic is going to get better next month. Everyone, from Dr. Anthony Fauci to President Joe Biden, has predicted it is going to get worse. Players clearly aren’t taking the protocols seriously, evidenced by the NBA’s decision to strengthen them. At some point, the restrictions outside a bubble will come close to mirroring the ones in it.
You can read the full story from Mannix at Sports Illustrated.