A Year in Review: The NBA’s Unprecedented Year


Photo courtesy of NBC news.com.

2020 has been a very strange year. But on March 11th, 2020 it got crazier for basketball fans across the country. On March 11th, the news released that Utah Jazz starting center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The Utah Jazz was scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Thunder when the news broke. Shortly after, the NBA Commissioner along with NBA owners ultimately decided to shut down the league indefinitely. This decision ultimately left a lot of uncertainty in regards to whether the league would resume when COVID cases would go down or if the league would come up with another plan to resume play.

On June 4th, commissioner Adam Silver came up with the concept of a bubble to resume play. The bubble gave players the option to either opt-out or opt-in to play into the resumption of play. To ensure the public safety of both the players as well as the coaches the NBA supplied daily on-site COVID testing for players and staff inside the bubble. Although cases were surging in Florida at the time, the NBA felt most comfortable having the bubble in Orlando because the NBA decided who would be allowed in the bubble or not.

The NBA decided to invite 22 of the 30 teams. There were 10 teams from the Eastern Conference and 12 teams from the Western Conference. The main location of the bubble was at Disney Wide World of Sports. The official NBA hiatus lasted 118 days from the day the league was suspended to the day that the NBA players arrived in the Orlando bubble. When players arrived in Orlando the NBA required the players and staff to quarantine for 2 weeks before beginning individual, team workout sessions and other physical activities. Once all players and staff passed through the quarantine phase and attended team practices, the resumption of play began on July 30th.

For fans to receive the whole NBA Bubble experience,  players Matisse Thybulle and JaVale McGee vlogged the entire bubble experience on YouTube. Many people watched Matisse Thybulle’s vlogs for more humor and to see the bubble from a more junior standpoint. Meanwhile, some other people tuned into JaVale McGee’s vlog to see what the Los Angeles Lakers were up to in the bubble. Additionally, many people tuned into JaVale’s vlogs to see superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ activity in the bubble.

During the NBA’s time in the bubble the NBA, along with the NBPA, decided to bring forth a major issue that lied near and dear with players and staff which was the issue of racial injustice. Adam Silver allowed a list of sayings that players were allowed to wear on the back of their jerseys such as Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can’t Breathe, Justice, Peace, Equality, Freedom, Enough, Power to the People, Justice Now, and Say Her Name. This allowed NBA players to have their actions speak louder than their words and raise attention to racial injustice.

Each team received 8 play-in games to determine the standings for the playoffs. The play-in games went just as the NBA could have imagined. There were buzzer-beaters, outstanding performances, and amazing primetime games. Before we knew it the NBA Bubble was in full swing and, just like that, we were already in the 2020 NBA playoffs. There were no shockers in the first round; everyone who won was expected to win but there was one major that stood out in the first round. On August 26th, the Bucks organized a protest against the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bucks players refused to leave the locker room before game time to show their support in the fight against Racial Inequality. As a result of the Milwaukee Bucks’s protest, the remaining teams that were supposed to play later that night joined arms with the Bucks’ decision not to play to protest racial inequality.

The main storyline of the NBA playoffs was the Denver Nuggets and how The Nuggets came back from a 3-1 deficit in both the 1st Round and 2nd round against the Utah Jazz and then later the Los Angeles Clippers. But, at the end of the day, it was the most superior team that came out on top to win the championship, the NBA Bubble which was the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference Champions Miami Heat in 6 games. This was most certainly a journey that no one will ever forget. There were amazing games from day 1 to the last day of the NBA Finals. The NBA Bubble will most definitely go down in sports history books for being one of the most unique experiences in sports.