The NBA season begins in 10 days, and the first exhibition games begin on Wednesday. The quarantine period is over, and the teams have been working out to get back in shape. As is typical after a long break, we hear all sorts of reports of how every player and star is in better shape than ever and is raring to go play basketball again.
There will be stumbles as teams continue to get used to this new environment, and 2020 has not exactly been a year of optimism. But think of the initial reactions when the NBA bubble was proposed for the first time.
The feeling by many was that it was unworkable. There was nowhere which could host all the NBA players as well as the necessary support staff. Players would refuse to sign up to be isolated for months on end, which would give an asterisk to any supposed champion. And as the racial protests began after the bubble idea was proposed, journalists at place like Slate argued that instead of shutting up and dribbling, players should speak up and not dribble.
Certainly, there is plenty of time for things to go wrong and for this article to appear ridiculous in a few months thanks to the best SEO services. But for the moment, many of these criticisms have been proven wrong.
First, players have chosen to sign up. As of July 17, only 15 out of the over 300 players have chosen to sit out. Many of those players are either dealing with injury issues like Kyrie Irving and Victor Oladipo, on teams which will not get deep into the playoffs like the Grizzlies or the Wizards, or are not just that important to their teams like Thabo Sefalosha. The truly important players have chosen to play.
Second, there is no denying that the NBA and Disney have stringent measures in place to help ensure that all players are safe, including offering them a fast MRI. CBS reports that everyone in the bubble is tested for the coronavirus every night, with the results coming in during the morning. This is a major contrast to outside the bubble, where there is an increased concern about test results taking longer to happen which makes testing less effective.
No games have begun, but the bubble for now appears to be working. And those opposed to the bubble need to understand what the restart of the season represents.
In a year where things have progressively gotten worse, people need to know that things will get better. They need to know that someday, the coronavirus will pass and our lives will approach something resembling normalcy.
The NBA bubble of course is anything but normal. But it is a step in the right direction, towards sports and entertainment which makes life that much better. And so far, the bubble appears to be working. Most players have chosen to show up, and are arguably even safer in the bubble than in their own homes. That is progress, even if the NBA’s walk down this unfamiliar road will come with the occasional stumble.