“Whole New Game”: the NBA 2020 Bubble Season

How COVID-19 affected the NBA and what the NBA did to finish their season


Photo Courtesy of sportingnews.com

“As baseball and football have struggled to return during the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s restart in a bubble has been, largely successful.” NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated at the Orlando NBA Bubble on August 13, 2020. On March 11, 2020, the National Basketball Association, (NBA) shut down due to COVID-19.

The US was put in lockdown after cases and deaths from the disease rose in March 2020. The NBA team, Utah Jazz, was the first team for multiple players to test positive for the Coronavirus. Players such as Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert both tested positive for the Coronavirus. Gobert stated that he was in disbelief that he had it. At the beginning of the day, he felt that he had only a small cold. After multiple days, he started getting more serious symptoms such as a fever, loss of smell, and loss of taste. Donovan Mitchell was frustrated with Gobert and stated that he was being careless in the locker room and touching other players’ belongings. Due to the positive tests, the NBA season was suspended.

According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, most NBA general managers on May 29, 2020, wanted to restart going straight into the playoffs. The NBA didn’t do that exactly, but they had a different approach. NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, came up with an idea to play eight seeding games for the playoffs. The NBA bubble took place in ESPN’s wide world of sports in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The NBA restart was very different than how it was before the pandemic. For example, there were no fans, players could not leave the “bubble,” and had multiple tests every day. A few players stated that they did not like staying in the bubble and even compared it to prison. For instance, LeBron James said in a Twitter post, “Just left the crib to head to the bubble. S*** felt like I’m headed to do a bid man!” Besides the players’ complaints, the NBA bubble went very well and there were no coronavirus outbreaks.

The NBA playoffs started on August 17th. The first game of the Playoffs was the Denver Nuggets vs the Utah Jazz. The Jazz fell to the Nuggets 125-135 in overtime. The Lakers and Bucks, who were the two first seeded teams, both lost game 1 in their best of seven series. On August 26th, the Milwaukee Bucks were to play against the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs. The Magic took the court while the Bucks boycotted the game. The Bucks boycotted this game because of police brutality. The Lakers, Thunder, Rockets, Trailblazers, Nuggets, Jazz, Celtics, Raptors, Clippers, and Mavericks all boycotted their next couple of games. 

The Los Angeles Clippers crashed out of the playoffs in the second round, falling well short of their championship goals, and extending their league-worst conference final-less streak to 50 years. After such an embarrassing collapse, team owner Steve Ballmer believed change was necessary and parted ways with coach Doc Rivers. While there’s no doubt the Clippers have the talent to win a title, they weren’t able to put it all together, and that was because of some “dysfunction” in the locker room. Early in the season, there were reports of chemistry issues, and we saw those manifest at multiple points during the playoffs

The Los Angeles Lakers played the Miami Heat on September 30th in game one of the NBA finals, with the Lakers taking game one by beating the Heat by 18 points. The Lakers also took game two but lost in game three by eleven points. The Lakers bounced back and took game four by a score of 102-96. On game five, the Heat beat the Lakers 111-108. In-game six, the Lakers decided it was time for a change, so they inserted guard Alex Caruso for Dwight Howard. They beat the Heat that night and won the championship.

The NBA is planning to do a bubble next season and start on Christmas day 2020. Their plan is to have a 72 game season and not have to play basketball during September and October because that is typically when the new NBA season starts.