By Anthony Clark Jr.
The National Basketball Association’s board of governors voted on June 4 to return the 2019-20 season after months of speculations. The meeting concluded with a 29-1 vote, the Portland Trailblazers being the only organization opposing the return, according to ESPN.
Players, teams, and fans worldwide have been anxious since NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the decision to implement a hiatus on March 11 in order to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic. Speculation about the different ways to approach the return of the season have loomed for months, and now the NBA is optimistic to resume play no later than July 31.
ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Resort in Orlando will be used to house players, play games, and for training/practice sessions. The teams will consist of the top eight teams from both the Eastern and Western Conferences as well as the teams that are currently standing six games or less from eighth place – San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, and Portland Trailblazers.
The itinerary for the return is based on the following:
- No player throughout the league is obligated to return, it is based merely on personal choice (no fines/punishments). Players will see a reduction in salary if they don’t play.
- The regular season will extend 16 days, with five to six games per day.
- There will be four hours between games on each individual court to accommodate overtimes, cleanings and warm-ups. The league will be using three courts in the complex for games.
- In the eight-game regular-season format, each team is expected to play one back-to-back.
- The NBA is expected to be aggressive in moving up the dates to start a playoff series when the previous round’s series comes to an end.
- The NBA Finals format is expected to include games every other day.
- Daily COVID-19 testing for players, coaches, referees, and Disney employees
- Disney employees must refrain from contact with players and follow health and safety guidelines, overcrowding in locations at the resort is prohibited.
Although the league is optimistic, many players have voiced their frustrations and concerns since the announcement. In a league conference call on June 12 that consisted of over 100 players, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was one of the many players that does not agree with the continuance of play, noting that the health risks of returning to a botched season should overpower any awards.
Teams are expected to arrive in Orlando July 9-11. The hope is to return and finish the season between July 31-Oct. 12, although there have been multiple propositions to have the resumption windows later than October.
More information can be found on ESPN’s webpage.