NBA bubble proves successful in 2020

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Photo by Fair use from @KingJames on Instagram

Finals MVP Lebron James holds the Larry O’ Brien finals trophy as well as the Bill Russel finals MVP trophy.

Naturally, people need an escape during hard times, and with the COVID-19 pandemic there is no better time for people to find something to take their mind off the problems in the outside world. 

The NBA announced that the 2019-2020 season would be suspended on March 11 of this year. From there, the commissioner of the league, Adam Silver, had to initiate a plan to bring the NBA back in a safe and efficient manner. The league came up with the scheme to have a return at Disney World beginning on July 31. Every team that was in playoff contention would enter a “bubble” at a resort or adjacent hotel, isolated from the public, where the teams would stay until they were eliminated. Players would not be allowed to bring anyone with them and each team would be tested for COVID-19 regularly to ensure their safety. 

Other leagues did not have plans like this and suffered the consequences. For example, the MLB tried to begin their season normally with no fans, but the players were allowed to move freely. Because of this, there were 104 cases of COVID-19 for their league. The NBA made the quick decision to create the bubble and it proved to be beneficial.

Even though the bubble was a great plan overall, certain players broke the rules and almost ruined the season. Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers left Orlando and went to the Magic City nightclub in Atlanta. His reasoning was that he “wanted wings.” This decision almost compromised the safety of everyone involved with the NBA, and could have ended the season if he had caught the virus. Because of this, he had to complete a 10-day quarantine in order to compete on the court again. 

Another case of an NBA player being irresponsible is Daniel House of the Houston Rockets. House allegedly brought a woman from outside the bubble, which was a violation of the rules. He was suspended shortly after and the Rockets were eliminated by the Lakers in the second round.

Even with these failures, the league managed to have zero cases of COVID-19 throughout the season, making the NBA the safest professional sports league in America by far. 

Though they were successful in keeping the players safe, mentally, the bubble took a toll on countless athletes and coaches. Players such as Paul George of the LA Clippers, among others, publicly addressed their mental health struggles.  

“I underestimated mental health, honestly,” George said. “I had anxiety, a little bit of depression, from being locked in here. I just wasn’t here, I was checked out. Games 2, 3, 4, I wasn’t there.” 

This is only one example of someone brave enough to speak out. Having to spend months without family or much of any direct contact with the outside world can not only lead to a decline in mental health, but it caused a negative effect on players on the court. Teams that were favored to win the championship such as the Bucks and Clippers were eliminated in the second round. Although a lot of credit goes to the teams that beat them, it is possible that the isolation in the bubble contributed to their failures.

NBA players are world-class athletes who have played the sport their entire lives, but how would a high school basketball player here at Heights feel in that situation? 

“I would do it in a heartbeat,” said Tula Tula (12). “The NBA has always been a dream of mine and if given the opportunity to win an NBA title, I would definitely go through the bubble.”

After three long months of isolation for the players, the season concluded on October 11 of this year with the Los Angeles Lakers triumphantly defeating the Miami Heat in game 6.

Overall, in terms of safety, the league was successful as there were zero cases of COVID throughout the bubble. On the other hand, the effects it had on the mental health of the players were definitely noticeable. Eventually, there will be a time where the COVID-19 pandemic will be a thing of the past and of all the unusual scenarios that took place, the NBA bubble will always be remembered for its challenges, but even more so, for its success.