The NBA was able to successfully execute a bubble scenario and bring us a finish that now has us ready for the NBA Finals to take place.
After the announcement to shut down the NBA season in March, with no idea of when they could restart, the NBA came back in an isolation bubble that made it possible for teams to complete their seasons.
Preparations for the NBA Bubble Were Made
The NBA created its bubble on the Disney Campus in Orlando, FL. Even though Florida has been one of the hotspots in the country for COVID-19 outbreaks, the league was able to successfully create the bubble that would allow them to finish their season. With the location set and all hotels prepared, 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams made their way to the Orlando area to begin quarantine efforts before going into the actual bubble.
The NBA Bubble Affected More than Just the Teams
Strict quarantine and testing rules were put in place prior to entry to the NBA bubble and once inside. The Toronto Raptors arrived in the area early to begin the quarantine process a week or so before practices and games would begin. Reporters that would cover the games, camera personnel, and other support staff all had to meet the same quarantine guidelines to be allowed in the bubble and receive specific access to coaches and players.
Going Into the Bubble Meant Leaving Family at Home
The progressive nature of the NBA and the amicable relationship with the NBAPA (NBA Players Association, the league union) made it possible for all players to understand what would be required to finish the season. All players had to commit to leaving family and friends for more than two months to be allowed to play basketball and bring the season to completion.
Some Players Chose Not to Go
Every NBA player was given the option of not entering the NBA bubble. Those with health concerns, family members with health issues, and those that simply didn’t want to chance the uncertainty of the COVID-19 environment that could occur in the bubble were allowed to not play without the worry of being judged or losing time. This made it easier for players to be fully committed to the bubble if they chose to play.
Getting Ready to Play in the NBA Bubble
After a strict quarantine period, where meals were delivered to rooms and players, coaches, support staff, and media all had to remain in their rooms at all times, it was time to play. Every team was given a practice floor to use and begin preparing to restart the season that had been interrupted. This setup included logos and colors that reflected each team on the floor to make teams feel more at home.
Finally, it was Time to Play
The plan in the NBA bubble included eight regular-season games to finalize the standing and then a move into the playoffs. As teams were eliminated, and once the regular-season games were done, teams that didn’t make the playoffs were able to leave and go home, which allowed for more control in the NBA bubble and fewer people on the campus.
Eventually, Family was Allowed
Going without family members around might be a typical part of being in the military, but it’s not typical for most people, including NBA players. These players might be used to travel, but they also cherish the time to come home and see their loved ones. After several weeks in the NBA bubble without family, players were allowed to invite their families to join them, but these families had to go through the same quarantine process before entering the bubble as the players had to previously.
The NBA Bubble Cost a Lot
The NBA had quoted the cost to operate the bubble at Walt Disney World as being more than $150 million. Operating this area without any fans is certainly costing the league money. Nearly 40 percent of the annual revenue for the league comes from ticket prices and in-game spending, which doesn’t take place in a bubble that’s set up without fans in attendance.
The Cost has been Worth It
When the NBA bubble began, it didn’t seem likely the games would be played or we would reach a successful conclusion to the season and playoffs. With zero positive tests during the bubble period, lots of amazing NBA games to take our minds off the other things we’ve been watching on television, and a road through the playoffs that seems almost normal, the cost of the bubble has certainly been worth the price.
Getting Ready to Finish the NBABubble
Right now, we are down to only two teams left in the playoffs as we prepare for the NBA Finals. These two teams are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. With the entire campus to themselves, it must seem a bit eerie and quiet without the other twenty teams that were in the bubble with them to start with. The championship for the NBA seems clearer than it did several months ago.
How do You Rate this Championship?
While there’s no doubt there will be stories of the NBA bubble of2020 and the troubles surrounding COVID-19 which has created a world that leaves many in fear every day, how will the championship in the bubble be rated? Will this championship be on the same level as others that require travel, fans, family, and more media coverage and involvement? Will this championship be looked at as an easier road to the finish or one where the road was much more difficult?
Regardless of how you feel about the NBA bubble, the road to the finals and the finish of this season will live on in our minds for a long time. The Lakers and the Heat will tip off and determine a champion to a season that was interrupted by a global pandemic unlike any other we’ve ever seen.