The expression on Pop’s face in the image above is how I imagine many basketball fans feel right now. We want our sport back. And the NBA acquiesced and put together a tournament for the end of July/early August in Orlando, one of the current hotbeds of the coronavirus pandemic.
But before the games commence, I have an idea- don’t.
Don’t serve some semblance of a season finale that truly cannot be wrapped up. The season is truly lost and no amount of games will bring it back.
Don’t bring in some teams and eliminate others. If you’re going to finish the season, then do so. If not, call it something else and package it with a name for the occasion.
Don’t sell fans on official games when a number of the players are opting out, teams are signing other players, and many are still testing positive for COVID-19. These aren’t even our teams anymore. This is shaping up to look like what would happen if everyone who didn’t make All-Star Weekend had been required to go and play elsewhere during what otherwise should be their week off.
If the league wants to bring basketball back, how about hosting a tournament, shuffle up the players, appoint captains, and create something interesting. Actually design an All-Star Weekend atmosphere and offer an experience that goes on for a couple of weeks. Build an elimination tournament like Summer League and allow those who want to play to do so.
But don’t wrap it up in a bow and hand out a Larry O’Brien trophy at the end. Don’t hang banners that will only gloss over the pandemic that tore through the 2019-2020 season.
Honor the game, the players, the fans, and the climate by not making the postseason into a charade. True fans would rather watch a group of players hoop because of their love of the game without streamers and fanfare.
Or cancel all NBA activity and ask the players to be the ambassadors of pandemic response. Ask them to stay home. Ask them to wear masks. Ask them to social distance and be safe with the rest of us.
In the meantime, we’ll watch the “best of” games, the classic match-ups, and the Vince Carter highlights over a simplification as a means to obtain that almighty dollar.
Doesn’t the game deserve that much?
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