While the NBA season is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league has been in talks of possibly resuming the season in Las Vegas, minus the packed arenas.
Should the NBA find the way to go through with it, an annually held Las Vegas fan-less event could serve as the blueprint.
The event? The NBA’s annual G League Winter Showcase held December 2018 and December 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The event, which serves as a scouting showcase for league executives, holds various games daily over a four-day period without fans present.
The G League Winter Showcase, which displays the talents of dozens of hopeful players, is held a month prior to January’s 10-day signing period.
These games were closed off to the public and only kept open for team and league staff members, agents, media personnel, and close family and friends of the players.
A Seemingly ‘Seamless’ System
While players typically get revved up from the energy of live crowds, players at the G League Winter Showcase had to look inward to pep up their own performance.
But while it was a challenge at first, players said that after the first couple of possessions, the games started to feel like normal games.
Aaron Magner, who works with Eventuris, a company that provides staffing for the G League Showcase, the games, although different, didn’t feel awkward. Magner said that’s because the games were produced so well, especially for it being such a unique playing experience.
The setup went like this: Four courts were built inside of Mandalay Bay’s Convention Center divided by a partition to allow play on either side to allow games to go on simultaneously.
League members, media staff, and close friends and family were even given assigned seating along the sideline, or on the risers along the baseline, both seating arrangements on the opposite side of players’ benches.
Music was played during timeouts or long stoppages during play, but outside of that, the only noises throughout the games were organic basketball sounds, like dribbling, players communicating to one another during the game, or shoes squeaking on the court.
NBA Season Suspended in March
When Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, it caused the NBA season to come to a screeching halt on March 11.
Initially, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would be on a 30-day hiatus at the time he announced the shutdown, but it’s gone on longer than that and it’s still uncertain if it will be able to return in 2020.
The NBA was the first major professional sports’ league that suspended its season and ushered in the remaining leagues to suspend their seasons too, including NHL and MLB.
Sports’ suspensions came at an interesting time outside of the coronavirus outbreak, as many more states were just expanding their legalized options for sports betting.
League ‘Not in a Position to Make Any Decisions’
According to a comment Silver made during the NBA Board of Governors meeting held April 17, the league isn’t in any position to make any decisions at the present time, and there’s no telling when they will be.
When it comes to “bubble-like concepts,” like holding NBA games without fans present, Silver says the league isn’t seriously engaged to that particular kind of environment, given the fluidity and uncertainty of the outbreak’s nature.
The league is prioritizing human life over anything else, and that’s where the conversation began and ended during the board meeting.
Fanless Sports; Viable Solution in Bringing Resuming Sports
According to the testimony of some players at the G League Winter Showcase, a fan-less event setup would be a good solution in slowly reintroducing sports amid this pandemic. No fans? No issue.
The transition would be a seamless one because the schedule could work efficiently.
The games would start as scheduled, and players would leave the facility promptly once their games finish up. The absence of fans means the avoidance of unnecessary contact with more people than what’s required to get these games played and filmed.
Important April NBA Updates
April 17: According to sources close to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and NBPA are working on closing a plan that will withhold 25 percent of every player’s paycheck in the league, starting May 15.
April 14: The Chinese Basketball Association is reportedly looking to postpone their calendar again until July. The association has been on hold since January 24.
April 13: Potential protocols that would get players ready for games are being discussed by league executive and team medical staff. A proposed plan under the new protocols would possibly include a 25-day program that players would undergo before they’re allowed game-play.
April 10: NBA teams come together in a play to encourage the league’s office to push the NBA draft date back from June 25 to no sooner than Aug. 1.
April 9: While no games have been played for a month at this point, NBA players receive their full check. For most players, that pay date was April 15.
April 6: For weeks, NBA and NBPA officials have been collaborating in checking the accuracy of multiple blood-testing devices for COVID-19 that would allow the league to track the virus in players. This is being considered the first step is allowing play to resume.
April 6: NBA lets teams know that organizations will not be allowed to conduct in-person workouts or interviews with draft-eligible players until further notice. Teams are, however, allowed to hold virtual interviews with draft prospects, but lasting no longer than four hours for any single player.
April 1: 15 days after Brooklyn Nets announced that four of their players had tested positive for coronavirus, the team’s general manager, Sean Marks, announced that the team’s roster is now completely free from COVID-19-related symptoms.
We’re sure most of the world is missing professional basketball during this time of quarantine, but we’re not sure what the league will do next when it comes to coming up with a possible solution to resume play.
Whether that be holding games in a fan-less facility and location like Las Vegas, or waiting until the storm of the outbreak completely blows over, we will just have to wait on the official word from the league.
Weigh-in: Do you think fan-less sports be the best solution for bringing back sports, slowly but surely? Let us know what you think about the idea in the comments below!