At the start of the Pandemic, all sports were shut down and a lockdown was established. Many months later, sports like the NBA and NHL came back and created a “bubble” where no outside fans or family were allowed. It was an effort to keep players safe, there were still flaws in the system. At the end of the season, the NBA worked to create a safer way for the league to run. Now, we are halfway into the year, with lots of controversy and craze. Let’s talk about it.
First, let’s cover how the NBA is going about the situation. Every player is tested before every game, and if a positive test comes through, that player must either go 10 days or more after the first positive test or onset of symptoms. The other option would be to test negative twice at least 24 hours apart via PCR testing. Severe punishment can come with violation of health protocols. The season is yet to have a full restart, but many whole teams have had games postponed due to positive testing. Also, as expected most stadiums allow no fans whatsoever. Some teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets have allowed limited fans. Another idea that team owners are taking is letting only the front-line workers have seats during the games.
Dallas Mavericks pictured pre-pandemic
The next big problem is the All-Star game. Readers of the sports section are likely familiar with this event, but I will give a little background nonetheless. Annually, the NBA holds a series of events filled with the best players in their respective roles. They have a 3-point contest, a dunk contest, and overall skills competition, and lastly the All-Star game. The fans vote on who gets to play, and it is a great opportunity for players to have some fun and play against the best of the best. Since the All Star game is such a popular event, why would it cause such controversy this time around?
The main reason is safety. This year, the NBA decided to proceed with an All-Star game, and many players have spoken out about how it is putting the best players at risk, including the best athletes in the league. Fans can empathize with both angles. One one hand, the All-Star break is arguably the best part of the NBA regular season, and fans really want to see all of their favorite players this year. However, it seems reasonable to be cautious about holding the event during the pandemic. Players such as Lebron James and Giannis Antetokumpo have spoken on social media about how the All Stars event could be putting stars in danger for an unnecessary reason. James even said that holding the event during the COVID-19 pandemic is, quote, “a slap in the face”, on the New York Times. There are certainly complications involved with holding such a massive event, risking exposure for many players. For example, the Brooklyn Nets, who have a dominant trio, all have a very likely chance of making the all-star game. If someone at the game gets COVID, everyone has to quarantine for around ten days and that would leave teams without their star players.
The All Star game isn’t the only reason for recent player dissatisfaction with the league. There is an uprising of players becoming unhappy with how owners and General Managers take advantage of contracts and don’t give the players a say in when they play. Although most coaches and owners are good about this, there is still a clear problem with what is happening. Golden State Warriors spoke out about this subject in a viral press conference following their game. Although not every player deals with the same issues, this sentiment was backed up by many individuals in the NFL. An example of this perceived unfair treatment is the case of Andre Drummond, the Cleveland Cavaliers star center. He has been sat out of games by the owner for what is nearing a month. And this isn’t the first time it has happened with players either.
Lastly, many fans are also upset with the NBA due to their uneventful and lackluster “All-Star Weekend.” It is always a thrill to watch the All-Star game and contests because you get to see the best of the best battle it out. And especially, the contests are more entertaining. I think I speak for many people when I say the Dunk contest is the best part of the NBA regular season. Although this year, they couldn’t do the star players and elite dunkers because of COVID protocols. The contest still featured some talented players and was something good to watch, but it couldn’t live up to the hype that all of the others have had.
So as the all-star break comes to an end and games are beginning to start back up, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year unfolds. The #1 seed is up for grabs to any team right now, and anyone is in playoff contention. Hopefully, they can make the whole process a bit more smooth come playoff time, and things can get as close to normal as possible for next year.