By Callum Brady
On Thursday the 4th of June, 85 days after suspension of the NBA season, the NBA Board of Governors approved the suggested 22-team format and in turn setting up a return date for the NBA come July 31st. The return of the NBA will be held in the World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida as I mentioned could be the case in my previous article on the topic, this means all 22 teams involved can be in one centralised location for isolation over the duration of the season. This will result in, easy testing and decreased risk of infection through traveling or being with other people outside the team. According to ESPN (ESPN.com), the NBA will allow teams to continue to hold individual workouts in their facilities. A training camp will start June 30th and will last a week then all teams will fly to Orlando on July 7, three weeks before the restart of the season.
A massive factor in this plan from the NBA becoming a success is how successful they are in reducing any cases of COVID-19 in players and staff while in the World of Sports Complex and if a case does occur, stopping any possible opportunities of the infection spreading. As mentioned above the NBA have already made parameters for safety with the location and traveling rules organised so far but ESPN also go on to state that the NBA plans to have daily, uniform coronavirus testing for everyone involved and on top of that other sources in the media are reporting that it will just be the teams allowed in the complex meaning friends and family will have to stay at home to reduce the numbers in the area. So far there is not much comprehensive information being released by the NBA in regards to testing but a solid plan is going to have to be implemented as safety is the number one priority.
Another key part of this whole plan by the NBA is the 22-team format and to breakdown what that actually is the official page of the NBA (NBA.com) breaks it down as the 22 returning teams will be the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences. Those two groups comprise teams with the NBA’s 22 best records. The NBA also continues on to say (NBA.com), it will start with eight “seeding games” for each returning team and include the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth and final playoff seed in each conference depending on combined records across regular-season games and seeding games. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs would proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The NBA Finals would end no later than October 12th.
Over the coming weeks, there will be a lot more information released in regards to how the return of the NBA will look as well as a protocol which will be put in place but looking at it personally there are definitely a few negatives that can be taken from the whole situation from what I mentioned in my last article on the topic based on who will be getting advantages from restrictions in place, will the championship mean as much as others when won and the big one at the minute is the time the whole project is going to take to be completed, with a projected time of October 12th the NBA will have to deal with the monsters that are the NFL and Football (Soccer) which will take massive amounts of viewership from the playoffs. However it is important not to get bogged down in negativity and look at the positives and the big one is the NBA is back, all sports will have these negative things to deal with when they return and all these problems are just a product of the difficult times we are currently experiencing but one thing is for sure, sports can brighten these darker days and slowly but surely they are coming back and I am itching for July 31st.