Fans In The Stands: How Feasible Is That For The NBA?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver does not see the league’s 2020/21 season starting up before January and is hoping to have fans in home arenas, in accordance with American culture, whenever curtains are raised for the campaign.

The current NBA season is coming to a close and is now at the Conference finals stage. The Miami Heat were 3-1 up and 6/4 to beat the Boston Celtics on Friday and close out their series at the time of writing, as well as 4/3 to win the series and 1/5 to be crowned Eastern Conference champions.

Out West, the Los Angeles Lakers were the 2/5 favorites to beat the Denver Nuggets, who had cut their series lead in half at 2-1 (at the time of writing). Fans could have also snagged 19/20 odds on a 4-1 closeout for LeBron James and Co., 2/1 on 4-2, and 13/2 on 4-3. There were also 13/1 odds on the Nuggets storming back to win the series in seven games while other bonuses are being offered by sports betting sites.

While the NBA’s bubble has been a resounding success so far, the league cannot rest on its laurels and is keen on finalizing plans for another campaign.

“The more I’m learning, I continue to believe we’ll be better getting into January,” Silver told CNN in an interview on September 23. “The goal for us next season is to play a standard season, 82-game season and playoffs. In home arenas, in front of fans.”

But just how feasible would it be to return to any semblance of normalcy? A regular 82-game season would require lots of traveling – fans being allowed to spectate, that’s a whole different kettle of fish. While teams can account for their players’ health, there’s not much they can do in the way of fans.

Silver’s hope is obviously contingent on the state of the US next year. There’s still no telling how much of a grip the medical system will have on COVID-19 and if not much progress is made on that front in the next few months, then it’s likely back to the bubble for all of the 22 teams who were there, plus the other eight who weren’t.

Of course, having an 82-game season in isolation isn’t all that practical. And unless the league can renegotiate its regional television deals with ESPN and Turner, they would have to play a minimum of 70 regular-season contests, which is still a lot.

Fans should have faith in Silver’s ability to find a working solution. Just look at the job he’s done to get basketball back. For now, though, they should simply enjoy what’s left of 2019/20.

The Lakers are the outright favorites for championship glory at 1/3, with the Heat now at 10/3. The Celtics and Nuggets are both 14/1.

Fans can also take advantage of other outrights such as Finals MVP. LeBron’s the obvious favorite there at 1/1 while teammate Anthony Davis is 9/4. Miami’s Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are 9/1 and 12/1 respectively.

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