NBA makes changes in response to coronavirus

   The 2019-2020 NBA season has been the longest and maybe the most unpredictable season fans have ever seen. On March 11, the season was suspended due to the pandemic, but after four and a half months the season restarted on July 30. In order to follow COVID-19 regulations, the NBA started to use bubble courts.

   Bubble courts have longer sidelines for social distancing, and the courts were in the Disney Complex in Orlando, Fla., located in Disney World, with the players staying at the resort’s hotels. The teams were split up into the Gran Destino, the Grand Floridian, and the Yacht Club resorts. Another difference with bubble courts is that there were no in-person spectators. Spectators were in virtual seats, where the fans’ faces were projected on huge monitors around the court in live time.

   However, for the 2019-2020 NBA season, ratings have declined.  One possible reason is that finals without a crowd is a new change that has never been done before. Another potential reason for the loss in viewership is the timing of the finals. Usually the finals are wrapped up by June, but this year the season came to an end Sunday, Oct. 11. When the basketball season resumed, games had little to no competition from other sports. Once football started, many fans had to make a choice between football or basketball.

   Other seasons are not the only reason why the NBA is losing viewers. Due to the unpredictability of this year due to COVID-19, people have turned to other forms of media to watch. Sports fans in general would be watching the game with their friends in homes or at bars, but bars were closed and people were told to stay at home during the playoffs and finals of the NBA. Also people are cutting cable at high rates. In 2019, 6.3 million people stopped paying for cable. Instead of watching cable television, streaming services are more appealing to some, so would-be fans watch their favorite shows or movies on demand for a lower price than cable.

   Also the NBA is showing its support for current racial problems they perceive in the nation. Instead of having their name on the back of their jerseys, players have messages. For example the most popular message players will have is “Equality.” Many of these messages are a result of the death of George Floyd and the rise of Black Lives Matter and its accompanying protests. Players’ jerseys and the court also had the message “Black Lives Matter.” Since the NBA is becoming more involved in the political views of BLM, many fans are being turned away. Even the President had something to say about the NBA’s views, tweeting “People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA.”

   When some students at Sheridan High School were asked if they watched the finals, many said that they were not interested in basketball. Senior Quinton Mangus formerly has been interested in the finals, but he did not watch as many games this year as he did before. Regarding the politicization of the current season, Mangus said “There’s a time and a place, and this may not be the best setting.” Mangus is like many fans of the NBA; he wants to watch a game without being preached at.

   During the 2020 finals, the Miami Heat faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers. In the first game of the finals, the Lakers were trailing behind the Heat early in the game. The Lakers gained control later in the game, and they were able to secure their first win in a 116-98 victory. The Heat’s loss was not their only thing to worry about because they lost both Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo to injuries. 

   For the second game Anthony Davis and LeBron James scored 65 points combined. The Lakers were able to dismantle the Heat’s defense and get a 124-114 victory. 

   The Heat beat the Lakers in the third game. In their victory, Jimmy Butler scored a 40-point triple-double and that made him the third player in NBA history behind James and Jerry West. The Heat won that game 115-104. 

   The fourth game saw the return of Adebayo for the Heat. He was not enough for the Heat to secure another victory because James and Davis were able to lead the way for the Lakers with a combined 50 points. That led to a 102-96 victory.

   For the fifth game of the series James scored 40 points. Even though James led the way for the Lakers the Heat was on fire with Butler getting his second career playoff triple-double. The Heat won with a 111-108 game. 

   In the sixth game of the NBA finals the Lakers clinched the win. That win made them the 2020 NBA champions. James was also named finals MVP for the fourth time after he won his fourth NBA title with his third different team.