The NBA will begin its restart tonight with two games on TNT: the Utah Jazz vs the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Los Angeles Clippers vs the Los Angeles Lakers.
How the bubble plays out could have implications on next season, as National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts told ESPN a similar setup might be needed. “If tomorrow looks like today, I don’t know how we say we can do it differently,” she said.
While it remains to be seen how the 141-day break will impact the game on the court, there will be several off-the-court storylines to keep an eye on:
Coronavirus Concerns: The NBA has gone three weeks without a positive test in Orlando. However, with an outbreak wreaking havoc on MLB’s plans, all eyes will be watching if the NBA’s bubble will stay secure. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the season would “cease completely” if an outbreak occurs.
Costly Endeavor: At an estimated $150 million, the NBA is sparing no expense to ensure the season can finish without a hitch. That price tag is amplified by the fact that the league is also preparing for a significant loss of revenue not only from fan-less playoffs but the prospects of playing parts of next season in front of no fans. Silver said that roughly 40% of the league’s revenue comes from money earned around game nights in arenas.
Content Is King: Content has been pouring out of the bubble as fans have been hungry for a look inside. Several media members started the @NBABubbleLife Twitter account, which has gained more than 126,000 followers since launching July 10. Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle has been doing daily videos on Instagram and YouTube where he now has more than 288,000 followers and 332,000 subscribers, respectively.
Innovative Approach: ESPN and Turner have more than 30 cameras positioned around the court for unique angles during gameplay. Other features include having fans in virtual stands and 17-foot digital screens around the court.
Social Justice: Players are allowed to wear social justice messages on the back of their jerseys. The court will also have “Black Lives Matter” painted on it.