written by Ethan Neal
The National Basketball Association (NBA) restart was an interesting set of events. It was one of the first major sports organizations to make an attempt at restarting. Many denied the possibility of it even happening, as it would require too much work and money to be able to contain over 150 athletes. However, the NBA decided that if they were going to restart, better sooner than later. The first decision that needed to be made was where could they hold such an event that would both hold this many players and the many courts needed to play on. The easy and most logical answer was Walt Disney World.
Orlando has had previous experience with basketball, as they have their own NBA team, the Orlando Magic. Considering the Orlando area had already experienced summer basketball, as for years they hold an NBA summer league circuit, and Disney, located in Orlando, had the perfect space already built for both housing and basketball, it was the ideal location for basketball.
With the setting in place, all it took now was execution by both the players and health officials. Once a player entered the bubble, they would no longer be able to leave unless there was an emergency. This required all the players to be grouped up at three resorts total. The higher ranking teams: the Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Raptors, Celtics, Heat, and Jazz, all stayed at the Grand Destino, which is considered the “most lavish” of the Disney Hotels. The mid tier teams: the Magic, Thunders, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, and Grizzlies all stayed at the Grand Floridian, also one of Disney’s lavish hotels. The lower tier teams: the Blazers, Suns, Spurs, and Wizards, all stayed at the Yacht Club resort. Each player got their own room, that way in case a player somehow got Covid-19, the spreading of it would be small. Between that, and mandatory testing everyday, it was very hard for the player to spread the virus between the teams if someone were to test positive.
With the testing and handling of the virus down, the teams could finally start playing. While most of the teams that were in the bubble already had a playoff spot, they would still be fighting for positioning. The Grizzlies, Trailblazers, Suns, Spurs, and Pelicans were all fighting for a spot in the play-in game for the western side of the playoff bracket. These teams had a lot to fight for and it was evident by the way some of them played.
The Bubble proved tough for a lot of teams. However, for the Blazers it could be deemed successful, as they were able to secure the 8th seed spot, cementing their place in the playoffs. Alongside them in the Western Conference were the Lakers at the 1st seed, Clippers at the 2nd seed, Nuggets at the 3rd seed, Rockets at the 4th seed, Thunder at the 5th seed, Jazz at the 6th seed, and the Mavericks at the 7th seed. The Eastern Conference changed very little, as the Bucks were the 1 seed, the Raptors at the 2 seed, the Celtics at the 3 seed, the Pacers at the 4th seed, the Heat at the 5th seed, the 76ers at the 6th seed, the Nets at the 7th seed, and the Magic at the 8th seed. These came to no surprise as this is what most predicted as the final outcome, as most of the spots were practically locked in stone.
The NBA proved a lot with the bubble showing that with both competent leadership and rule abiding players, that sports could in fact go on during COVID-19. They’ve not only shown that it is possible, but they have been a model for other sports organizations. It will be interesting to see how organizations like the NFL, NHL, and MLS carry on with their seasons. Only time will tell if they can be just as successful as the NBA.