The board is targeting a Dec. 22 start to what would be a season of 70 to 72 games, with the NBA Finals ending in June again as has been in the case for many years, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person, who spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because no plan has been finalized, said the possibility of fans being at games would hinge on how a particular market is faring against the coronavirus at that time.
There are other options, such as waiting until later in the season to begin play with the hope that more arenas would be able to have fans. But starting in December instead of mid-January or later could generate a difference of roughly $500 million in revenue, the person said.
Revenue projections for the league this season were missed by about $1.5 billion, the person said. The losses were the result of a combination of factors — the shutdown caused by the pandemic, the cancelation of 171 regular-season games, completing the season in a bubble at Walt Disney World without fans, the nearly $200 million price tag for operating that bubble and a yearlong rift with the Chinese government that saw NBA games not shown on state television there.
Alexia Grant, aka Chef Lex, was one of 10 chefs invited to cook for players inside the NBA bubble. From her kitchen at Disney World, she launched the pop-up restaurant Comfort Kitchen, specializing in Caribbean and Southern comfort food. Since, she’s cooked for players from every team in the bubble, including the Miami Heat, the LA Lakers, and the Denver Nuggets. But cooking under strict quarantine isn’t easy. She can’t leave the bubble to do her own shopping and has to rely on runners to deliver her food to the players in the inner bubble.
Because of the league’s rigorous approach to reducing the novel coronavirus risk to players, there were no fans, no cheerleaders and no mascots at the first scrimmage before the NBA resumes regular season play on July 30. A cameraman was positioned on the sideline, two ballboys in masks and gloves sat on the baseline, and two scouts and roughly a dozen media members watched from about 15 feet back from the court.
Fourteen people, including the public address announcer, official scorer, shot clock operator and team public relations officials, sat at a courtside table, which was surrounded by tall Plexiglas walls, like a hockey penalty box, to limit contact with players and coaches. All told, there appeared to be fewer than 200 people visible from the court, including the players and coaches, who sat on physically distanced chairs and hydrated with personal bottles rather than large buckets. Some members of the coaching staff and inactive players wore masks on the bench as they took their seats for the first time since the NBA season was indefinitely suspended March 11.
The NBA appears to be back, as both players and owners have approved the league’s 22-team proposal to resume play in Orlando, Florida on July 31 — but the games we eventually see will be much different than anything we’ve grown accustomed to. There will be social distancing, masks and smaller, non-NBA arenas. The most immediately noticeable difference, however, will likely be the lack of fans in the stands.
So what will the NBA do? Well, the league is considering using crowd noise from the popular video game, NBA 2K, to simulate fans during games in Orlando, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. He added that the league and the NBPA are still discussing creative options.
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The sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna sparked tributes around the world. Perhaps none were more stirring than a mural painted on a basketball court in the Philippines in the middle of a seven-story dilapidated building that is used as a housing project in one of the poorest areas of Manila. The government is currently trying to evacuate the structure, deeming it “unfit” for living, but the residents have refused to leave, and one of the main reasons is the basketball court at the center of the property. Jordan Clarkson tells the story.