With COVID-19 still being of concern, entertainment has found new ways to be consumed by the population. Television and film are relying solely on streaming services and theatre has also joined the digital platform. However, sports still remains a big question as to how it will bounce back. The NFL is planning to start it’s season soon and there are still many unanswered questions as to how they are going to social distance. The MLB, despite returning a few weeks ago, has really seemed very unstable and depressing as many players and staff are not taking social distancing concerns seriously. So far, there has been only one shining star amongst the sports world, that is the NBA. The “Bubble In Orlando” is perhaps one of the greatest achievements made by the NBA in the recent years. Though many were concerned at first. How will social distancing rules will be implemented? Would the NBA’s return be a distraction from all of the social injustices going on in the world more specifically as it pertains to the Black Lives Matter movement? Neither of these points seem to be the case anymore. Without a doubt, the NBA’s restart has been a much needed rejuvenation for many people still quarantining from home. The players, staff and media are all participating in taking COVID-19 tests everyday, wearing masks when traveling through the bubble, and maintaining distance when not playing in the game. There are virtual fans in the arena, virtual interviews with media being held and the bubble campus and courts are cleaned thoroughly between every game. They have brought safety, professionalism and community altogether to give fans this unique experience. As far as the actual game itself, it has looked second to none as players are focused on basketball only and each game has been well played and exciting even without physical fans in the arenas. During Inside the NBA on TNT, former NBA player and champion for the Houston Rockets, Kenny Smith, had this to say about the NBA’s restart: “The game looked the same from a television standpoint but I imagine being there it didn’t feel the same but when I’m watching it in the back, I’m like, this looks like a regular NBA game now, it doesn’t feel like a scrimmage.” And Kenny is right. From a point of view from the screen, there seems to be no changes with how the games are being played. Sure, there are no fans and no actual home court advantage but the energy is still there. LeBron James is still chasing down blocks, James Harden is still hitting difficult step back threes, Giannis Antetokounmpo is still dunking on whoever is in front of him. Even Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns are hitting their strides, they are now 6-0 in the bubble and remain the only team undefeated in the restart. There has been a close, nail biting game every night even with a few game winners.
COVID-19 is the not the only thing that the NBA is trying to overcome. Issues of police brutality and social justice for Black people in America and worldwide has been a major concern for many players coming in. They have responded well and are continuing to show support. Before nearly all of the games, NBA players and coaches are kneeling during the national anthem while wearing Black Lives Matter warm ups. Players are wearing messages on the back of their jerseys to bring awareness to these issues. Some of these messages include, “Liberation”, “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name”. Players like LeBron James, Jaylen Brown and more have used their platforms and media interviews to address matters like Donald Trump criticizing the NBA for kneeling, police brutality and continuing to demand justice for Breonna Taylor. The NBA has even announced recently that they plan to donate 300 million dollars to Black communities. It is clear that the NBA as a whole wants to show the American people that if egos and opinions are put aside, and a unified effort is made to work for a bigger picture, then anything is possible.