Can Disney World Save The NBA Season?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With states across the country slowly reopening their economies, the NBA may be eyeing a new destination to continue their sidelined basketball season. According to several reports, Disney World in Orlando has offered its property as a location for the NBA to return.
First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Disney resort property has 12 basketball courts available to the league, including two that are capable of hosting an NBA broadcast s.
As the league has toyed with the idea of returning to finish the 2019-20 season, the bubble concept has been a popular idea in which every remaining NBA team gathers in one city, secluded in private hotels to prevent exposure to novel coronavirus.
As a popular tourist destination, the Disney properties are well equipped with enough hotel rooms to host the entire league if need be and may provide better seclusion than other previously suggested bubble cities.
The NBA has also examined the possibility of finishing its season in Las Vegas which similarly is outfitted with two broadcast-ready arenas, and has enough hotel space to comfortable house 30 NBA teams should the league decide to play out at least part of the remaining regular season.
One potential benefit of playing in Las Vegas is the belief that the coronavirus may be less easily spread in warmer climates, a theory that has been floated since the virus became a worldwide pandemic. Though it doesn’t reach the same temperatures as Las Vegas, Orlando’s climate may provide the same benefits.
Also similar to Las Vegas where the NBA hosts its 30-team summer league, the NBA has a previous relationship with the city of Orlando which hosted the summer competition from 2001 through 2017. Unlike Vegas, Orlando has an existing NBA franchise in the Orlando Magic.
Sitting entirely on private property, Orlando may have a logistical advantage over Las Vegas as it can more easily prevent exposure from the public by blocking off entire sections of the resort. Disney is also the parent company of ESPN which holds a long-standing history with the NBA.
Though there was initial pushback from some of the league’s players about playing in front of empty arenas, the attitude has shifted due to anxiousness to get back on the floor. Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeted Thursday that “As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has resisted placing a date on when the league could return, relying solely on when the data says it would be safe to return, though a July start date would allow the league to complete an abbreviated regular and postseason by Labor Day weekend, allowing players adequate rest before restarting the 2020 NBA season on a delayed schedule.
Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles indicated that the bubble concept of moving NBA players into a secluded area for an extended player of time may be trying on his family, but would not rule out the idea of finishing the season in such a fashion.
“It would be extremely hard, it would be basically the longest I’ve been away from the kids which I don’t know how much I am willing to do that as much as I love playing basketball,” Ingles said, “So two or three months without them would be borderline impossible for me but obviously we will wait until a decision is made and go from there and see what the best way of working around it is.”
Designed as a vacation destination, Disney may also be able to provide available space for family members to be closer to NBA players as they finish out the season.
Meanwhile, players in certain cities may find themselves back on the floor as soon as next weekend. With several states across the country loosening stay-at-home orders, some team facilities may reopen by May 8, allowing players to begin preparing for the return of the season.
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