A little less than a month ago could now be likened to the first double shot of a reluctant Wednesday night pub crawl. It was a daunting night heard pulsating from inside as uncertainty regarding some virus lurking out on the streets was heightened. Next, we were hearing the NBA would play games without fans in attendance, and thus the night was dead set on getting extremely weird– walking on the ceiling weird. A couple more fall, and a player all of a sudden has the virus prior to the confirmation of more cases. And then, after a few rounds of karaoke and an unexpected ride in the back of a senator’s Lincoln, the NBA season was halted. Just like that. That’s all it took for things to go from jazz-hands whacky to twiddling-thumbs serious.
In the second week of March, NBA fans embarked upon an unprecedented road. A road, that at this point in the endeavor, shows no sign of reaching an end. Unless, that is, the road is demolished, its pedestrians sent home, and the proverbial waiting game commences. In other words, unless Adam Silver cancels the remainder of the season.
I apologize. I suppose now it seems like a no-brainer to have lead with that, but it has been a long three weeks. So excuse the symbolic language, the metaphors, and the allegory.
Now, if there is one thing that has been proven throughout this whole crisis, it is to this effect: whatever optimism you have coddled in your arms at the moment regarding normal life, let it go. Let it go because it was a figment of your imagination anyways.
The most abnormal crisis slipped right into our world and everything the league did to counter it fell through, forcing them to postpone the season. Remember? “Postponed?” Originally, it was a 30-day period, and quicker than you can say “30-day period” the plan fell apart. As soon as the state of California basically announced the physical closure of schools for the remainder of the academic year, someone turned the lights off in The Golden 1 Center, The Chase Center, The Staples Center, and 26 other stadiums. Oh and also, the crisis got worse, as genuine fear for public health and economic stability entrenched itself into the average American psyche. In the mean time, anyone around the league has been looking for ways to fill the massive void left behind from an NBA season stripped from our hungry grip, whether it is an NBA 2k tournament with actual players competing (sorry, Harrison Barnes for your first round disappointment), a proposed H-O-R-S-E competition, or your very own Nigel Pickles commentating simulated games.
There has been a fair amount of talk surrounding the rumor of the NBA season resuming, in shortened fashion, some time this summer. However, if you are picking up on a particular trend in journalism surrounding the NBA, you probably realize how that silly concept is yet another installment in the phantasmagoria of fruitless hopes. Regardless of certain voices “downplaying” it, the NBA season is not only “angling” towards canceling the remainder of the season, they have no other choice.
If we think about a possible return of this season, it is something that would likely not happen until the later part of May at the earliest, and that would likely bring with it a flurry of games that total to an attendance of zero. Any financial gain for owners would be severely cutback due to the loss of profit from tickets, parking, and concessions. At that point, any shortened finish to the regular season would bring with it a postseason that would start some time in June, the month the season typically ends. Then we see a champion crowned in late August, maybe even early September. Then all of a sudden the 2020-21 NBA season gets chopped up as a result. On top of all that, the current amount of knowledge on the novel coronavirus does not allow the league to definitively plan that far in advance, and the signal of “all clear” that would allow such a plan is missing in action.
So, the 2019-20 NBA season is dead, frankly. We have had loads of time at its bedside, but it is time to accept it and let go.
Fanciful hopes still exist, however. In recent news, the President had a conversation with various league commissioners, including Adam Silver. His pitch: an economic revitalization starts with the quick return of professional sports. It is funny that the Commander in Chief is channeling his inner American sports fan, demanding his most favored pastime to return. It is also funny that so much more than the mere suspension of various sports leagues has diminished this economy in the last month or two. It is possible that this multi-car wreck can be sorted out starting with sports, but there are so many other points to begin at that a swift return of pro sports seems far from dire.
The sad truth is that the amount of bummed out sighs released throughout the nation peaked far before the number of COVID-19 cases. America is in a bit of a pit right now with burdens, paranoia, and genuine uneasiness, and rightfully so. Things are scary.
It has been well-covered that the President not only suggested the return for professional sports, but pleaded for it. I must hand it to the President, a return of sports would be the ultimate feel-good sports story. Imagine it: a nation tearing at the seams amidst a ravaging pandemic, causing all sorts of social, economic, and global crises. But, by some hand of providence from the torch of the Statue of Liberty herself, professional sports returns as does peace and stability in a newly-united country. Seems like a tear-jerker, huh? Hollywood at its finest. I must say, it does sound like a great idea. Constructing a giant horse to gift to your enemy without them knowing you hid hundreds of your soldiers inside sounds like a darn good idea, but not everyone has the necessary lumber. In other words, nice try, Mr. President, but this is a big-kid situation.
The measures taken to actually contain the outbreak have been misconstrued and replaced by sinister clones of each measure. A crisis is on the horizon? Let’s treat it like a JV team virus. Money needs to be poured back into the economy? Let’s give everyone a check, but let’s also help out a bunch of big businesses, many of which will not stimulate the nation. People are bored out of their minds at home and they’re getting angry? Let’s stick a pacifier in their mouth and get the basketball game back on. If I had to guess, the NBA and other leagues are being dangled in our faces like some kind of negotiation chip reminiscent of some watered-down, trickle-down stimulus package.
So, please, lets nip this in the bud. It’s over, and we are not going to force the completion of a season at the expense of tugging away its legitimacy and simultaneously putting next season at similar risk. Let it be a model of thought for these strange times: this is a crisis, do not try to change it, just accept it. Let’s just crown an MVP, let Canada rent the Larry O’Brien trophy for another twelve months, and gear up for next season.
Look, the Kings were actually verging on some interesting stints of basketball in the closing weeks of the regular season as an eight seed beckoned their attention, but alas, we can go no further. Any way you cut it, it is a bummer. Perhaps there can be a silver lining, though. At least we do not have to sit and watch LeBron and the Lakers win a championship. Yeah, the Kings were not going to the finals or anything, but at least it is not Sacramento’s championship mission getting stomped on and spoiled by the league and outside interferences.
With that in mind, stay home.