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.
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.
NEWBURY PARK, CA – MARCH 28: Retired NBA Player Kobe Bryant talks with girls at the Her Time To Play basketball clinic hosted by JR.NBA and WNBA with on March 28, 2019 at Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Will Navarro/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Mamba Sports Academy was launched in 2018 as a joint athletic training business venture with Bryant and Sports Academy CEO Chad Faulkner. The name will change back to The Sports Academy on Tuesday, with a new website and logo rebranding, Faulkner told The Undefeated.
The name “Mamba” was a part of Bryant’s nickname, “The Black Mamba,” which he gave to himself.
“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. ‘Mamba’ is one of one,” Faulkner told The Undefeated. “And with that as we carry on as The Sports Academy, it’s more appropriate to put Kobe in another Hall of Fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivaled, frankly, and let that live on its own. We will continue to do the work we do.