Sports Fans Rejoice as the NBA Prepares to Make Announcement on Imminent Return


As the nation continues to ramble down a path that has very little to do with leisure or recreation, a number of our sports leagues are looking to return to some strange version of quasi-normalcy in the coming weeks and months.

NASCAR has already returned, albeit without fans, but this was almost expected.  As far as sports go, racing cars is about as low contact as it gets.

In Europe, the Bundesliga has already returned, but has done so with no fans in the stands and extremely strict coronavirus testing protocols.

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In the United States, many of the sports leagues that don’t involve engines and racetracks are eyeing a return to play in Orlando, Florida, where ESPN’s World of Sports complex can be used to provide a more-controlled environment for athletes, coaches, and staff.

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This now includes the NBA.

The NBA’s board of governors intends to approve a league proposal on a 22-team format to restart the season in Orlando, Florida, sources told ESPN.

The conference call and vote is set for 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, sources said.

Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s advisory/finance committee have shared the broad details of a plan with teams to play at the Walt Disney World Resort, sources said. The plan includes 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams, eight regular-season games, a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed, and playoffs, sources said.

The top 16 teams in the Eastern and Western conferences will be joined by teams currently within six games of eighth place in the two conferences — New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix and Washington, sources said.

The play-in tournament will include the No. 8 and No. 9 teams — if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth, sources said. In that case, the No. 8 seed enters a double-elimination tournament, and the No. 9 seed a single-elimination tournament, sources said.

As with other sports leagues, there will be strict guidelines in place to prevent any further spread of COVID-19.

Life in the NBA bubble will be governed by a set of safety protocols. While players and coaches will be allowed to golf or eat at outdoor restaurants, they will also need to maintain social distancing, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

The NBA is planning to have uniform, daily testing for the coronavirus within the Disney campus environment, sources told ESPN.

If a player tests positive for the virus, the league’s intent would be to remove that player from the team to quarantine and treat individually — and continue to test other team members as they play on, sources said.

For sports fans around the nation, an abbreviated season is better than no season, but you had better believe that there will be an enormous asterisk in the record books as well.

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