Sports: Controversy Arises As Disagreements On The NBA’s Return Date Continue
by Ryan Dwyer
Despite the 2019-2020 NBA season having just ended on October 11th after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in six games to win the NBA Championship, Commissioner Adam Silver and league officials have released a tentative start date of December 22nd for the 2020-2021 NBA Season, sparking disagreements amongst players over the condensed offseason.
After the conclusion of the 2019-2020 NBA Season, the league immediately sought out to find a date for the start of the new season. Although it may seem logical to wait until the start of 2021 to begin the new season, the NBA is still a business and the longer they wait is the more money they lose. So far it is widely known that the league plans on restarting between December 22nd and December 25th.
Although it has not been said directly by big name players in the league, there is certainly a very big possibility that players such as LeBron James may sit out for the first month of play.
Many players and fans alike believe that merely two and a half months break in between the conclusion of the season and the beginning of a new season is too little of time to give the players for rest and preparedness.
Teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat especially will need extended periods of time to prepare for the new season as they were the last two teams participating in the playoffs as they were competing for the championship.
Many fans and players alike are pushing for the new season to begin no earlier than Martin Luther King Jr Day – January 21st – so as to give the teams who were in the playoffs a well needed break.
Players need time to relax and spend time with their families after having spent months away from them in the Orlando bubble. On top of that, it takes time for players to get back in shape once they’ve had that period of rest. Getting in game ready condition is certainly not an easy task, and it for sure does not take a short period of time, as it requires countless hours of working out and practice over a span of a few months.
According to SB Nation’s Silver Screen and Roll, if the NBA and NBA Player’s Association agree on the tentative start date of December 22nd – which they are expected to – training camp for all teams will begin on December 1st.
In the presumption that the two sides agree to the planned start date, that would leave the two teams who played in the NBA Finals – the Lakers and Heat – with only 51 days between Game Six of the NBA Finals and day one of training camp.
As SB Nation’s Silver Screen and Roll notes as well, the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors had exactly 100 days between their final playoff game and the start of training camp for what is now last season.
Furthermore, a team like the New York Knicks – who were not good enough to qualify for the Orlando bubble – played their last game on March 11th of this year, which gives them just about nine months of rest compared to a team like the Lakers, who will have just under two months of rest by the start of training camp.
As a result of the shortened offseason this year, players might very well come into the new season out of shape and unconditioned. This may result in a much sloppier and slower style of play in the beginning of the new season.
Although it may seem like the league is trying to minimize its losses for this upcoming season which is partially the case, it is widely known that the Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, is very well liked amongst players and team management alike. So, it should be expected that all NBA players and coaches will come around to the planned start date and reach a consensus that it is the best option for the league.
The respect for Commissioner Silver might play a part in negotiations being taken more seriously between the players and ownership. If negotiations persist, then it is very possible that the NBA could be looking at as much of a month’s difference between potential start dates for the new season, with players preferring more rest, preparation, and family time, with owners thinking about the financial straits of a later start date.
Regardless of when the season is to start, it will be an unusually short offseason compared to any other offseason that current NBA players have seen, albeit the fact that the world is living in unusually uncertain times. So because of that, players will have to find ways to adjust and adapt to this year’s shortened schedule, expedited start dates, and getting into the mental mindset that comes with playing a full NBA season.
It will be an interesting year for NBA fans and players as the circumstances are truly unfamiliar territory, but until a consensus is reached and a season is played, the only thing left for people to do is speculate on how the new season will look after playing in the bubble setting in Orlando. If one thing is for sure though, it is the fact that this year’s season will be one to remember, yet another wild ride for the NBA following an unusual, but successful, pandemic-ridden season.