News, Sports

Takeaways From the NBA Bubble

By Jared Levy ‘23, Contributing  Writer 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is evolving and thriving  from the direction it’s headed. In the  midst of this pandemic, Adam Silver,  the commissioner of the NBA, perfectly executed a well thought-out  plan for reopening that has led to  plenty of action-filled basketball for  fans to enjoy.  

Teams arrived in Walt Disney  World beginning in early July, form ing the bubble. Players were required  to quarantine until their test results  arrived. Scrimmages began on July  22nd, and the season officially resumed on July 30th. Since then, out of the 341 individuals tested weekly,  there hasn’t been a single positive case. The NBA invited 22 of the 30  teams to the bubble, based on their chance of making the playoffs with  the eight regular-season games played  in Orlando. 

The regular season had many  exciting moments, and the playoffs  have lived up to the high expectations  of basketball fans. Whether it was  the scorching hot Phoenix Suns who  went undefeated or Damian Lillard’s  extraordinary performance, NBA  bubble basketball has not disappoint ed. Several records were broken;  Lebron James now leads the NBA in  most playoff games won, and the duel  between Jamal Murray of the Den ver Nuggets and Donovan Mitchell of  the Utah Jazz led to playoff scoring  records to be broken. 

As the bubble progressed, a few things became clear: The NBA is  transitioning into a new era, the orga nization is globalizing, and the league  is becoming incredibly well managed.  

With the emerging stardom of players like Luka Doncic, Jayson  Tatum, Devin Booker, and many others, the league is transitioning into a  new generation of stars. The transition isn’t complete yet, with veterans  such as Lebron James and Chris Paul  still winning games, but the process  has started. The playoffs are a good  example of this as the young Nuggets,  Celtics, Heat and the small ball Rock ets have been putting up a serious  fight against older teams such as the  Clippers, Bucks, and Lakers. Over the  course of the next few years, young  players such as rookie-of-the-year  Ja Morant, Tyler Herro, and Michael Porter Jr. will become stars in the  league.  

Along with new this wave of young stars comes international players that have taken the league by  storm: reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece, former rookie  of the year and all-star Luka Doncic  from Slovenia, Nikola Jokic from  Serbia, and Pascal Siakim from Cameroon. Year by year the league has  increasing numbers of young international stars, and in the 2020 draft,  Israeli Star Deni Adjiva is projected  to be drafted in the top five along  with three other international top 20  prospects. In the bubble, these players have been some of the best in the  league, and as of September 9th, all  six teams remaining in the playoffs  have an international player on their  roster. As seen in the bubble, the  NBA is globalizing, and in the future,  international players will hold a major  role. 

One final significant takeaway  is how well Silver and his team run  the NBA, and how they’ve fulfilled players’ needs in this time of rising  activism and uncertainty. For years  the NBA has been ahead of other  

American leagues in their social activism, and players have been very vocal  about their need for change in this  troubled world. Every court in the  bubble says “Black Lives Matter” on  the hardwood, the players can wear  messages such as “Freedom,” “Stand  Up,” etc., and players have spoken out  in interviews about social justice and  equality. Instead of pushing back and  restricting the players’ voices, players have been giving a platform to  express themselves. By giving them a  platform, Silver maintains a sense of  control and unity while allowing players to express their beliefs. For ex ample, in the wake of the Jacob Blake  shooting, teams followed the lead of  the Milwaukee Bucks, and alongside  the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), decided to boycott  games. Regardless of whether this  was a correct response, the NBA  freely allowed teams to do so, which  prevented a divide between the  league and the players and maintained  their healthy relationship. Silver flawlessly handled these situations and  kept the NBA going. 

Although playing in this Orlando  bubble is not an ideal situation, it has  allowed viewers to watch pure basketball without the roar of the crowd  and the usual spectacle of a professional sports event. This has brought  light to how bright the future of  the NBA is and the strength of the  league in the face of adversity. If  there’s one takeaway from the bubble, it’s that fans have a tremendous  amount to look forward to in upcoming  years and the finish of this thrilling  season. 

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