This year has undoubtedly been a crazy year for all sports, and every single athlete has experienced changes to their season. With that being said, it was an incredible feat that we were still able to have sports, with many of the major leagues coming up with great plans to get back to play safely, and still have a season that fans can enjoy. From cardboard cutouts to fanless arenas, 2020 has undoubtedly been an insane year in sports. Luckily, the NBA came up with a great system to stay safe and continue the season that had been cut short.
After the original season shut down on March 11th due to COVID, league commissioner Adam Silver and others had to come up with an idea to get back to play, while keeping players, coaches, and staff safe. This solution came in the form of a bubble, in Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista Florida.
22 teams were invited to the bubble, and the first players arrived on July 7th, and would not leave until they were eliminated, or won the Finals. Players would be cut off from the outside world, including their families, for months. With that being said, mental health was a huge concern, as players would be spending countless hours in solitude, in a hotel room.
The league tried to bring back a sense of normalcy for the players, even adding in player-only bars with NBA2K, TV’s, arcade gaming, and ping-pong tables. Additionally, 6 barbers, 3 manicurists, and 3 stylists would operate barber shops in each team’s hotel, in case the players decided they needed a haircut.
Amidst all of this, our nation was becoming more and more divided, due to claimed racial injustices after the death of George Floyd. The NBA decided to allow players to wear slogans on their backs that had something to do with this movement, such as “Black Lives Matter”, “Say Their Names”, or “Equality”, along with many others. This caused a massive boycott of the NBA, as many people were angry that the league had been politicized, as sports are supposed to be something that is separate from politics. Per Sportico, ratings were down 55% compared to a year ago, even though people were so excited to have sports back.
Additionally, Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant died earlier this year, and the Lakers (the team that he played with for the entirety of his prolific career) decided to hold a tribute to honor him in one of their games. That game was held on August 24th, because Kobe had worn numbers 8 and 24 in his career, and obviously August 24th is also 8/24. The Lakers were playing the Trail Blazers, and at one point, in the first quarter, the score read “Lakers: 24, Blazers: 8”, and the final score of that game came out to be 135 Lakers, 115 Blazers, a fitting tribute to one of the best to play the game.
The Lakers would also win their 17th title, winning in 6 games over the Miami Heat, with Lebron James taking home the Playoff MVP, his fourth in his career. All in all, fans were thankful that we were even able to have an NBA season, in this crazy year of 2020, even with no fans and an abnormal season.