The NBA Starts Its Regular Season And A March Into The Unknown

The league will try to play games without a bubble.

The National Basketball Association’s regular season has arrived with games scheduled across the country despite the fact that COVID-19 has not been contained. It could be argued that the United States is in worse shape in the COVID-19 crisis than it was when the NBA shut down the 2019-2020 season on March 11th. The NBA was the first professional sports league to close its doors but the league did resume operations in a tightly controlled setting in Central Florida in July and finished its season in October. The 2020-2021 season does not have a complete schedule yet. The league lists games only through March 4th because the league is entering into the season that will be filled with uncertainty. The league’s Toronto Raptors franchise cannot play home games in Canada because of Canadian COVID-19 health regulations. The Canadian government does not want Raptors personnel flying in and out of Toronto from American cities. The US-Canadian border remains shut.

Toronto is playing home games in Tampa, Florida. The NBA will have three teams playing in Florida, a state where hospitals are nearing full ICU capacity because of COVID-19. But Florida is also a state that has taken a laissez-faire attitude toward the virus which means there will be people watching Raptors games and that policy applies in Orlando as well. There could be as many as 4,000 customers in Orlando per game and about 3,800 in Tampa. Most NBA teams will not have people in the stands initially. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is extraordinarily optimistic that customers will be back in big numbers at NBA games in April. But the NBA has no control over any timelines for that to happen. There are two vaccines available but there also needs to be a containment of the virus. That will take time and a collective effort.

Mark Cuban