Four Reasons the NBA Needs to Closely Reconsider Its Restart

Unfortunately, James Harden can't keep this kind of social distance in every game.
Unfortunately, James Harden can't keep this kind of social distance in every game. Photo by Eric Sauceda
The NBA is finally set to resume its season beginning in late July at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. But, should they? There has been a rush to get teams back so the 2019-2020 season (yes, this season started last year) can be completed. Still, there are good reasons to, as Governor Greg Abbott did in Texas on Thursday, hit the pause button.

It's not that fans and others don't want the NBA back. But, when you consider the potential issues and the current situation in America, Commissioner Adam Silver may want to look around and reconsider. Here's why.

Social justice causes may indeed be better served off the court.

Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard have passionately argued that black players might be better served by simply spending time in communities and using their platform as players and celebrities to shine a light on police brutality and social justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. They may not be wrong. Already as protests have died down, there has been a cooling of urgency in government agencies around the country. The further we get away from those protests, the more likely people will begin to refocus. Sure, the spotlight of the NBA could be powerful, but ultimately, it is still a game. Perhaps that platform would be bigger without the game to interfere. Perhaps not. But, it is worth the discussion.

Numerous players have said, "no thanks."

A number of players have decided to opt out of the rest of the season over fears of contracting the coronavirus or getting injured, particularly those who are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. With really only maybe seven or eight teams having a legitimate shot at a title, this seems an almost prudent decision. If you play for Phoenix or Washington, what is your incentive for returning to the floor to play maybe seven or eight games before the offseason. The risks are huge and the upside is negligible.

The NBA is perhaps the most likely league to be dramatically affected by COVID-19.

The close proximity of players, the playing of games indoors and the fact that they will all be on a single campus is a recipe for disaster. Viruses already spread through locker rooms like wildfire during a normal season. COVID-19 is absolutely going to impact at least one team, probably more as the season ramps back up. Imagine if a whole team is taken out by the virus. Imagine if they are deep in the playoffs. It's a nightmare scenario that would be a complete and utter disaster for the NBA.

They are restarting in Florida.

Florida is one of a handful of states — including Texas — seemingly ignoring at will the fact that their state is absolutely exploding with cases of the virus. Disney, in the same town as the NBA "bubble" is set to fully reopen in a week. The state is loaded with tourists this time of year. Even Major League Soccer will be playing within the same complex as the NBA. If you were going to build a human petri dish, you might do it in swampy Florida where the virus is running rampant and a bunch of grown men will be bumping into one another in an enclosed structure. Tough not to imagine the dangers inherent in that.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke