1. ESPN has announced that “Black Lives Matter” will be visible on the sidelines of each of the three courts. This is a great sign that the NBA’s players are pushing for genuine political protest over the next few months.
2. Anyone who has decided the Orlando Bubble is destined to fail is underestimating the power of 300 million dollars in player salary which will be recouped if players play the 8 regular season games in Orlando. Also underestimating the power of live sporting events in an entertainment-starved landscape. In addition, once the playoffs begin, the competitive fires of the world’s best athletes will likely take over.
3. At the same time, the risk of multiple players on an individual team testing positive and missing an entire series could easily alter the playoffs dramatically.
4. Imagine the reactions if LeBron, Giannis, Kawhi or Harden tests positive. These playoffs may already be thought of as the *playoffs* but if one of the top players tests positive and their team loses, the whole thing will turn into the #playoffs!%$??
5. Not to mention the ripple effects if a player died after contracting the virus in Orlando.
6. Adding Phoenix and Washington to the other 20 playoff-hopeful teams was purely a financial decision. More teams, more games, more TV money, and the slim possibility that the Wizards can force a play-in game or two if Brooklyn or Orlando slip over these last eight regular season games.
7. If the NBA were completely honest about focusing on safety, the league would have restricted the bubble to 20 teams, 8 in the East and 12 in the West.
8. In the West, Phoenix has no hope of rising from 13th to 8th. They’d have to leap the Spurs, Kings, Pelicans, Blazers and Grizzlies. The Suns enter the restart 6 games behind Memphis and 2.5 games behind the logjam of 9th-11th.
9. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the prospect of the NBA season starting back up and the playoffs coming. A lifelong Celtics fan, I felt a definite jolt of anticipation from seeing the newly released eight-game regular schedule. I think commissioner Adam Silver would do the right thing and cancel the playoffs if positive tests started determining which teams advance.
10. Life will not return to “normal,” but there’s something to be said for the power of a team, playing collectively and selflessly, pulling people together. We all need something to look forward to.
I’m hoping the players will keep the spotlight on the protest movement, in interviews and post-game press conferences. The NBA is progressive and it’s players will remain so. If the playoffs proceed as planned, the Finals will end in mid-October. A few weeks later, we’ll have an election.