The State of the Game: Basketball


Photo Courtesy of The Bleacher Report

Keenan DiPasquale, Sports Analyst

For NBA and NCAA basketball, it was a fun normal season all the way up until the end. In college basketball the normal players like Kentucky, Duke, and Michigan State were playing great, and the Big Ten, with surprise success Penn State, Rutgers, and Illions, had emerged as the strongest conference in the country. Smaller schools like San Diego State and Dayton earned top ten rankings and dominated their opponents. The season was also filled with disappointments like Michigan’s meltdown after a very strong start, and UNC having one of the worst years in program history. 

The NBA was having the most competitive season they have had in years, with seven teams having a legitimate shot at the title. The strongest among those teams were the Lakers, Bucks, and Clippers. This season has also had its surprises like the emergence of the Heat and Raptors at the top of the east, and the surprising good play of the Mavericks and Thunder, both led by second year players. 

Some disappointments this year were the Rockets’ slide down the standings, the Spurs falling from playoff relevance, and Philly’s massive chemistry issues. Of course, the NBA has also faced many other challenges this year with the passing of former commissioner David Stern, who built the game to be what it is today, and the passing of Kobe Bryant, one of the best, most accomplished, and most influential players to ever play the game of basketball. 

Things started to change with the college basketball regular season over and a month left in the NBA season. At first concerns about the Coronavirus made both leagues consider having games with no fans, with the NCAA going as far to announce March Madness would be played without fans in attendance. Soon after, many of the major conferences announced their decisions to play their tournaments without fans, with the Ivy League canceling theirs all together. The NBA was having discussions about playing games with no fans, but no decision was final, except for the Golden State Warriors, they would have to play without fans due to San Francisco gathering laws at the time, but on March 11th that all changed. Right before the game between the Thunder and the Jazz in Oklahoma City was about to tip off, the officials got word that a player potentially had Coronavirus and the game was postponed. Later that night we found out that player, Rudy Gobert, did in fact test positive and the NBA suspended play indefinitely. 

The next day, one by one the conferences shut down their tournaments until finally the NCAA announced they were cancelling March Madness. For the NCAA that’s not changing, they are staying canceled and will just focus on starting up next season again, with some new rules like possible immediate eligibility for first time transfers and players being able to make money off their likeness and name. The NBA, however, seems very determined to start their season again, even if they skipped the rest of the season and go right to the playoffs. Some plants in the beginning were possible to play all of the games in Vegas, but today more reports came out saying they could play in Disney World, because of the hotel space and the fact that Florida has deemed professional sports an essential business. No matter where they play, they will need three things to make it safe, weekly testing, all players in a hotel, and no fans in attendance. They will also have to allow about three to four weeks of training for the teams to get back up to speed as NBPA president, and current All-Star for the OKC Thunder, Chris Paul both noted in recent interviews. There are still a lot of variables at play, but the NBA seems destined to finish its season.