The current Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many industries and events. As people around the world have had to stay home, jobs have been lost, holidays have canceled, and entertainment and shopping venues have closed or operated under very limited capacity.

The world of sport has been unable to escape the effects of coronavirus, with both global and nationally significant events being put on hold or canceled altogether. The Tokyo Olympics was due to take place in 2020 has now been pushed back to 2021 and maybe canceled altogether. The NCAA suspended its baseball season and called off the 2020 College World Series.

As many more events such as these were canceled, there has been a huge knock-on effect on other industries. Hospitality will no longer benefit from the hordes of visitors staying, eating, and going out near sports venues. Also, the sports betting industry completely shut down early on in the pandemic due to the stoppage of sporting events. However, punters are now able to start placing bets again as sporting events have now resumed which also saw the NBA season resume and finish.

 

NBA 2019 – 2020

The NBA 2019 – 2020 season officially started back up on July 30 in the NBA Bubble. This bubble has been created in Orlando, Florida, to protect players from catching the virus during the final games of the season. It has also been an important asset for the 2020 playoffs and is likely to continue to be used in the upcoming season.

The 2019 – 2020 games were put on hold following an incident where Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz Center, tested positive from Covid-19 just a few hours before Utah were due to play Oklahoma City Thunder.

At the end of July, the NBA was finally resumed for the eight-game wrap up to the regular season, with Utah Jazz playing the New Orleans Pelicans. Coincidentally, it was Gobert that made the first basket.

Game five saw the Los Angeles Lakers scoring a 117 – 107 win against the Denver Nuggets. LeBron finished with 38 points, 10 assists, and 16 rebounds. The Nuggets put in a valiant effort, however an injury to Jamal Murray and foul for Nikola Jokic put them behind in the first half of the game. This win saw the Lakers heading to the NBA finals.

After the delay and pausing of games, the NBA finals started on the 1st of October where the LA Lakers and Miami Heat went head to head to win the overall title. Games 1 and 2 saw the Lakers take the lead winning both games and looking like the clear winner until the Heat won the 3rd game. The Lakers then battled to win game 4 which then made the Heat more determined and they won game 5. Going into game 6, the Lakers were leading by 3-2, game 6 saw both teams battle but a large win of 106-93 saw the Los Angeles Lakers be crowned the winners of NBA season 2019-20.

The new NBA system appears to be a roaring success so far, given that none of the participating players have tested positive. It also hasn’t prevented fans from feeling involved. Through utilizing Microsoft Teams, the NBA have put up large video screens around the court that stream fans live from their homes. While there is roughly a two and a half-second delay, hearing the crowd cheer, gasp, and celebrate each hoop brings some of the usual atmosphere and buzz back to the court.

 

What does this mean for the upcoming 2020 – 2021 NBA season?

Some potential fixtures were indeed suggested for the new season, but fans and punters are still eagerly waiting for release dates to pick their favorite team to win. Punters especially can use expert advice for the best picks and predictions for the upcoming season and matches. The reason for the large delay and uncertainty at the minute is obviously due to the pandemic after the hope of audiences being allowed to return to stadiums if social distancing measures could have safely been relaxed was lost. Silver stated that he hoped for a full, regular season with 82 games and a full postseason. It is said that about 40% of the NBAs (pre-coronavirus projected) $8 billion revenue relies on fans being physically present at games. So, although waiting for spectators to be allowed made financial sense for the league, it does not seem possible anymore with the hit of the second, stronger wave.

Fans hope and wait, aware that safety comes first.

This year’s 2020 draft had already been pushed back until November 18, 2020, over a month later than originally planned. This gives the NBA time to negotiate on the proposed salary cap.

However, one question remains about how a delayed start to the season will clash with the delayed Tokyo Olympics. If the NBA took place on its normal timetable, then the Olympics would fall in its offseason. But with that no longer looking likely, it seems that all players may not have the opportunity to play both. Of course, even if the playoffs are still ongoing, those who are eliminated may then be able to play in Tokyo. It remains to be seen whether or not the NBA will rethink its roster strategy to avoid this issue.

With all this rescheduling, it is also apparent that the trade of players for the new season will be moved around. The NBA is yet to clarify whether matches beginning in January would mean that the deadline could be extended.

Clearly, there is still a high degree of uncertainty over the upcoming NBA season. While the league hopes to wait it out until 2021 in the hopes of bringing fans back into the stadium, this could be a time-wasting strategy. As the current NBA bubble has proven a success, this could be on the cards again for next year.