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ULTRA GAME BLOG

The NBA Might Be Just What the World Needs Right Now

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In the most unexpected rematch of the season, the National Basketball Association is again facing off against COVID-19 and this time logging one in their win column. Their last match up could have been a season-ending loss, and almost was, but the NBA has bounced back and turned that into nothing more than a minor setback. Now at 1-1 after two meetings, the NBA and COVID-19 are the latest rivalry in basketball. Rivalries are nothing new to the NBA or any other sports league. It’s the world in which they live. In just six months, COVID-19 has become a formidable foe, bringing sporting events as we know them to a complete halt. 

Basketball in the Time of Coronavirus

This halt is almost over for NBA fans. The ill-fated season that was ended back in March after multiple NBA players tested positive for Coronavirus is resuming. July 30 is the reopening day when 22 of the league’s 30 teams will be reporting to their new home at Disneyworld to finish the season on their own terms.

It’s almost too perfectly timed to be anything less than a genius marketing tactic. Always happy to be in the headlines, all eyes will be on the NBA. They return amidst a global pandemic and widespread quarantine (and doing so in Florida where the outbreak is wreaking havoc), along with nationwide cultural unrest and ongoing protests in response to police brutality and systemic racism.

So it might seem to many that now isn’t the time. Perhaps the NBA should have waited, called the season over, scratched it from the record books, and tried again next season. There are too many other things to worry about right now. Now’s just not the time. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has undoubtedly heard this train of thought many times, maybe even considered it himself.

This moment in time, with staggering human incompetency and ineptitude on display, might be the perfect time for the NBA to return. Major League Baseball would normally be playing now, but we lost the season. The National Football League at this time has no plans of backing down from their season, but that’s not for a couple more months. The NBA just happens to fit the timing bill. They’ve been planning how they can finish their season since March when it was cut short due to the outbreak.

 

The NBA’s Comprehensive 113-page Plan

It’s not about the need for a distraction, though some people in that camp vocalize that belief. It’s about so much more than that. It’s about restoring faith in the people we admire, and in people in positions of great authority. It’s about restoring faith in the intelligence of decision-makers who are where they are because they’re supposed to be smarter than us. When just about everyone is watching their TVs or reading the news and shaking their heads in stunned silence over yet another failure of leadership, a meticulously developed and beautifully executed plan needs to emerge.

And it has emerged. In talks for four months and involving a sequestering that could take just as long, the NBA’s comeback plan is the ultimate example of meticulousness. The manual that outlines this comprehensive plan is 113 pages long. It leaves no detail to chance, discussing everything from where people will sit on the bench to whether doubles ping pong is allowed during free time (it’s not). Medical experts have gone on record praising the plan. It is not perfect, because no plan ever is, and today’s societal and medical issues make for an X-factor that is hard to quantify, and therefore hard to plan around.

But the plan is very doable.

Finishing the Season is About More Than Basketball

Think about this, sports fans: as you’re getting ready to watch the games on TV, maybe livestream online with your friends and family, most of the world is still at a standstill and will likely be watching as well. As you’re putting on the jersey of your favorite player and lacing up your Kyrie 6 Nikes, consider how massive the platform is that these players now have and how they can use that to shine an even brighter light on Black Lives Matter. As you’re securing your new Clippers face covering over your nose and mouth, think of the men willingly taking on the risks, and why.

To get paid? Yes. Let’s not be naive. But if what we have seen in the past is any indication, it’s potentially money that many of the players will donate to the causes they support. To achieve championship glory? Definitely. Especially if you’re a Western Conference team that played a fantastic season up through March.

Endure and Conquer

Or is it to be the example the world needs right now of something actually going right? To remind us all that not everything results in a disaster? To keep our current issues in the spotlight and thereby keep the momentum moving toward change? To be something that continues to connect humans and fosters unity?

In its rich 74-year history of some of the best basketball the world has ever seen, these games present the biggest opportunity the NBA has ever had to impact society in a real way and be the unlikely hero of the day. It is history in the making, and we get to watch.

“We don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.” -Kobe Bryant

To the players, team staff, and all organizational personnel involved in this endeavor: stay safe and vigilant.

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