It’s been exactly two months since the NBA suspended its season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. We’ve had ups and downs in the news about the continuation of the season, but one thing is sure - time is running out.
Scientific development is slow in regular times, and it seems dreadfully slow when all we do is sit home and get daily updates on a process that takes years. No matter how much we invest in a vaccine and a cure, we can only rush the science so far. With time flying, more people spoke up on giving up on the current NBA season and dedicating energy and focus on ‘20/’21.
“I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there’s an asterisk. They’re not going to get the respect. What if a team that’s not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.”
Shaquille O'Neal, USA Today
We’ve all heard about the financial implications, which are obviously the most significant incentive for everyone involved to find a way and play out the season - owners, players, media partners. The competitive side of it all has been put aside. While some compare this situation to a lockout season, there are significant differences.
The lockout usually means a shorter regular season, a more dense schedule, and that brings increased variance and fatigue into the playoffs. The situation we are in now, most predictions imply a significantly different (more volatile) playoff format. That’s what Shaq’s pointing out. At least in his eyes, winning a “best of one” or something closer to that than seven-game series wouldn’t be as valuable.
Shaq’s final sentence is crucial here. While trying to save some profit is understandable, we can’t risk people’s health and safety with a virus, we are only starting to understand. The impact any continuation would have on 20/21 also becomes greater with every passing day. Jared Dudley believes not as great as we think.
“Players don’t understand the ramifications if we don’t play this year.. It effects next season as well. No games, no tv money , billions lost in revenue.. There will be no vaccine coming next year also so IF we can be Safe which I have faith in the NBA we can l, we should play.”
Jared Dudley, Twitter
Dudley is correct in pointing out that we probably won’t have a vaccine come December (talked about as a start for 20/21), but scraping this season gives the NBA team to organize a safer way to play out 20/21. give players and teams time to prepare and the healthcare system to at least find better treatments for those who do get infected.
Look, this was always going to be a balancing act with a lot of unknowns. The NBA and its partners seem dedicated to finding a way to bring basketball back, and everyone pointing out the risks are acting in good faith. The most comforting thing is that, so far, Adam Silver made it clear that the safety of everyone involved will be the most critical factor in any decision. As much as we miss basketball, that's the only right way to go about this.