From the second the NBA suspended proceedings earlier this month due to the coronavirus pandemic, the way forward for the 2019-20 season has been topic to debate.
Some have argued the league ought to resume the season on the earliest alternative, play the remaining regular-season video games and the playoffs and push again the start of subsequent season. Others think about the choice unfeasible and have advocated for the NBA resuming with out regular-season video games and a shortened playoff format, which might guarantee the following marketing campaign can begin roughly as deliberate. Then there are those that consider the fairest choice can be to name the season off altogether within the face of such an unprecedented occasion.
Last week, commissioner Adam Silver steered all choices have been on the desk, however didn’t give a exact timeline as to when the NBA could resume. The league initially suspended the league for 30 days, however subsequently acknowledged it could observe tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which steered occasions drawing crowds greater than 50 individuals needs to be canceled or postponed till mid-May no less than.
That left the NBA in a troublesome state of affairs, dealing with probably huge monetary losses and a logistical nightmare. Even by resuming in mid-May, a timeline that appears extraordinarily optimistic given the growing dying toll from COVID-19, and adopting a shortened format, the league would have struggled to conclude its season in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.
This week, nonetheless, Silver and the NBA have been handed a significant increase after the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers took the unprecedented determination of suspending the Games till subsequent yr, following growing strain from athletes and nationwide Olympic committees.
Provided the coronavirus outbreak could be sufficiently stemmed, shifting the Olympics to 2021 frees up the calendar this summer time and removes a significant impediment standing between the NBA and its bid to finish the season.
Quite a few NBA stars have been on account of characterize their nations in Tokyo, however with the Games not on the horizon for an additional 12 months they may full the present season with out dealing with the selection of competing for an NBA title or boarding a flight to Japan hoping to safe a gold medal.
As is the case with the NHL, the NBA season historically ends in mid-June, with summer time historically baseball’s stomping floor earlier than the NFL season kicks off as fall approaches.
Speaking final week, Silver steered the potential of taking part in NBA video games in the summertime to finish the season was firmly on the desk.
“I will say that the conventional television calendar has changed so much, certainly since I got into this business,” the commissioner advised ESPN’s SportsCenter. “Prime time means something very different than it used to now that people in essence carry televisions around with them in their pockets.
“The summer time is seen otherwise than it was traditionally from the tv standpoint, so no matter whether or not we had been going via all this, it is one thing that the league workplace along with our groups has been spending numerous time on.”
At the time the Olympics were still a seemingly insurmountable problem, but the IOC’s decision has since seen to that and may well give the NBA the chance of venturing down a path some team owners have advocated before.
Earlier this month, before the pandemic begun and before the league was even suspended, Atlanta Hawks’ CEO Steve Kooning told the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference it was time for the NBA to reconsider its schedule, advocating the season should begin in mid-December as opposed to mid-October, with the NBA Finals scheduled for August and the free agency taking place in September.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is among those supporting Kooning’s proposal and was quoted as saying by Sports Illustrated as saying that “the sensible factor to do could also be to play longer into the summer time.”
According to Silver, 99 percent of fans watch NBA games via a platform, such as a TV or online, rather than in person. Tellingly, the commissioner added that because of their professional backgrounds, a number of team owners were very aware of that particular dynamic.
“We have numerous our crew house owners who’re technologists, media experts by background, and so it is one thing that committees of householders and league officers have been engaged on rather a lot, particularly during the last yr or so.”
Shifting the NBA season two months forward would prevent its opening weeks from jostling with the World Series for attention in October and would eliminate competition with the NFL throughout fall.
As things stand, there’s no date for a resumption of the current season and there’s no date for the beginning of the next. As the saying goes, however, every crisis is an opportunity.
Newsweek has contacted the NBA for comment.