The NBA and COVID-19

The 2020-2021 NBA season is on in earnest, after starting more than two months later than usual on December 22nd due to the impact of the Coronavirus. However, the NBA management and players must be commended for their commitment and dedication, especially the teams that played in the 2020 NBA finals that finished on October 13th, which was just two months before the start of the new season. The 2020-2021 season has been reduced to 72 games in the regular season, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will have a smooth, exciting, and incident free season and so far, things have been going pretty well. COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the dynamic of the 2021 NBA season, and we will explore some of these changes and also highlight some positives that we have seen so far in the season.

One of the most glaring changes for the 2020-2021 NBA season is the absence of fans in most arenas and minimal fans at the others for the start of the season. This has resulted in the atmosphere for games been a little more subdued, which in my view has negatively affected the viewing experience. One of the things that make the NBA unique is how close to the action the fans are, which allows greater interaction between fans and players and creates a spectacle like no other major sport. The absence of fans at games has taken this element away from the 2020-2021 NBA season so far. However, plans are in place to gradually bring back fans to the arenas, but this would vary franchise by franchise depending on how well COVID-19 is controlled in individual cities. The players, however, are as motivated as ever, and so far, we have seen some spectacular basketball on display, which definitely makes up for the fact that we cannot be at games in-person!

Players and officials are now subjected to strict protocols per the guidebook developed by the NBA to manage the complex nature of the NBA, which is played in cities all over the country. Players and officials are prohibited from visiting bars, clubs, sports events, or live entertainment events in their home market. When teams travel, they are allowed a little more freedom; they can dine outside their hotels as long as the restaurant has outdoor dining facilities or private indoor facilities. Importantly, all restaurants must be formally approved by the NBA management and the player’s union before anyone associated with the NBA can dine there. While restrictive, these guidelines reflect what is happening in the wider society, and in my opinion, most players will appreciate that these are in place to keep them safe.

Despite all the restrictions in place, we have noticed the NBA players, on the most part, seem extremely well-conditioned and fit. This is a testament to the work that their physical trainers and conditioning coaches have done with the players and the importance of players having a conditioning and workout plan even when they are not playing. So far, there has not been a spike in players getting injured which will ensure that teams have their best players to compete in the league if this trend continues. We anticipate that these NBA players will continue to remain fit and healthy because they all have some of the best people in the Sports Management business taking care of them. We look forward with excitement to the rest of the NBA season and are confident that everything will turn out well.