Colangelo Parker- Staff Writer
The 2020 NBA postseason is in its final chapter with the beginning of the NBA Finals series between the L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat on September 29 in the Orlando bubble.
It has been nearly four months since NBA players began to arrive to Orlando, Florida on July 7th to finish the remainder of its abnormal season. For the past four months, the NBA has quarantined itself in a bubble. The NBA bubble was created to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to its players while they complete the 2020 season in the midst of the pandemic.
“My ultimate conclusion is that we can’t outrun the virus, and that this is what we’re got to be living with for the foreseeable future which is why we designed the campus the way we did,” said Adam Silver in an interview with ESPN. “And so it’s a closed network; and while it’s not impermeable, we are in essence protected from cases around us. At least, that’s the model.”
On June 4, 2020, the NBA’s Board of Governors voted and approved a plan for the return of play for the 2019-20 NBA season. Instead of teams returning to play in their home arenas, the NBA decided that all games would be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Since the arrival of players to the bubble, the NBA has had zero positive tests of 341 players tested for COVID-19.The Disney campus was set up to house players and staff for the remaining games of the season. The NBA prioritized players and staff safety above
all for the restart after players such as Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Russell Westbrook, and others contracted the COVID-19 during the season’s hiatus. The NBA set up rigorous rules, regulations,and safety protocols for all in the bubble to prevent and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 on the campus.
“Since we designed our initial protocol, we are continuing to work with Disney on the testing of at least a subset of their employees that could potentially be in the same room as our players, and anyone else who’s tested daily on our campus,” said Silver told ESPN.
The stage was set for the return of basketball. The NBA officials agreed upon a format approved for the return of 22 of 30 NBA teams, featuring nine Eastern Conference teams and 13 Western Conference teams. All 22 teams invited were still numerically eligible to make the postseason with the target date for resumed play being July 30 and the NBA Finals running no later than October 13.
The NBA bubble not only has kept players in good health from the virus, but has allowed players to voice the injustice happening in the United States. Teams have kneeled during the National Anthem and protested games to make statements to viewers about their devotion to seeing systemic change and racial equality in America. In the bubble, players have been allowed to display different messages on the back of jerseys, such as “Black Live Matter”, “Equality”, “Say Their Name” and more. The NBA added “Black Lives Matter” as a logo onto the court the games take place on.
“The African-American community in this country has been engaged in a conversation internally about what to do, with all of us, not simply the National Basketball Association players, but all of us,” said NBA Executive Director Michele Roberts in an interview with ESPN. “And the conversation … that has happened between our players is exactly that: What do we do? How do we do it? How should we do it?”
The NBA bubble has proven to be a success with keeping players safe from coronavirus and providing players with the platform to voice equality to viewers while in the bubble. Fans have been treated to miraculous comebacks, heartbreaking losses, and spectacular performances through the postseason. Now, the beginning of the NBA Finals is here and is expected to be a stellar series to close the chapter of the NBA Orlando bubble.