As the NHL and NBA get closer to their respective returns, I’m still seeing people who are saying they shouldn’t finish their 2019-20 seasons at this point for reasons other than safety. They claim that it’ll affect next season too much, and they’d rather just have one messed up season. What I don’t think people saying this realize is that next season would most likely not be normal anyways. Earlier this week, I discussed why that’s true for the NHL. Here’s why it’s also true for the NBA.
Plausible, But Much More Difficult
Out of the two leagues, it’s much more plausible that the NBA could start their 2020-21 regular season on time if they don’t finish this season. They could just go to Disney and do the same thing they’re planning on doing for the return-to-play. But, it would be much more difficult. There would be more teams, meaning you’d have to have more hotels and more of everything else. So, it’d cost the league a lot more money. Also, the return-to-play plan will last at most 2-3 months, whereas a regular season is over double that. I can’t see a scenario Disney would be willing to give up that many hotels for that long that would otherwise be filled with park-going customers.
Hotel Groupings A Headache
Another aspect that’s easier to handle in the playoffs versus a regular season is the hotel groupings. For the playoffs, they’re being grouped by how long they’re likely to last in the postseason. Obviously, that’s not an option to group them by in the regular season. The most logical way to do it would be by division or conference, but that probably won’t do much in terms of containing any potential outbreaks. The reason I say this is because there is much more variation in who they’re playing during the regular season. There’s a lot of inter-division and inter-conference play, and only for a few games at the time. Therefore, there would be a lot of potential cross-contamination between hotel groups.
Because of this, if someone were to get sick, they’d have to quarantine pretty much everyone. Think about it: you’d have to quarantine every player they’ve played against and probably every player those teams have played against. Plus, you’d probably have to quarantine everyone who is in the hotels with any of those players. It would almost certainly cause the whole thing to shut down for a while. In the playoffs, if someone were to get sick, a lot of players would still have to be quarantined. But, they’re playing at most four other teams in the playoffs, so it’d be much easier to quarantine them while the others play on.
It’s Just Easier to Finish This Season
So, because of all that, I can see why the NBA is placing more value on finishing this season. Not only does it let them crown a champion, but it’s significantly easier than starting next season on time. In doing this, by the time next season rolls around, we’ll know even more about the virus and be closer to a vaccine. Plus, this gives them a lot more time to plan and figure out a way to play next season safely until there is a vaccine. Also, who’s to say next season gets shortened at all? They may be able to squeeze a full one in. So, in my opinion, it simply makes more sense to finish up this season and at least delay the start of 2020-21.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)