Opinion: NBA should return without fans, if it can return at all

The NBA postponed its season on March 11 due to the rapidly growing COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Adam Silver has been left with a decision to make as to whether or not the NBA season can resume.

National Basketball Association

The NBA postponed its season on March 11 due to the rapidly growing COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Adam Silver has been left with a decision to make as to whether or not the NBA season can resume.

Ben Barkley, Sports Editor

COVID-19 postponed the NBA season on March 11. Since then, many people have weighed in on whether or not the season could resume. Some say that the NBA season can resume, while others say that the NBA should cancel their season entirely. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that the postponement would last at least 30 days when the pandemic started. Since then, the pandemic has worsened and now mid to late June is considered a best-case scenario for the season resuming.

Most recently, Silver stated that a decision about resuming the season or not would be made by May 1 at the earliest. Silver continued, saying that he and the league are “not in a position to make any decisions, and it’s unclear when we will be.”

Being a huge NBA fan myself, I am wanting the season to resume whenever it is deemed safe to do so. However, if the NBA season does resume in the summer, it should be done so without fans in attendance.

This isn’t the first time that a professional sporting event has gone on without fans. In 2015, the MLBs Baltimore Orioles played a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards without fans due to protests in Baltimore.

Once fans can be allowed in, they should sit two seats away from people to continue to ensure safety and practice social distancing.”

— Sports Editor Ben Barkley

There is a major difference between then and now. That Orioles game was a one-time thing. This would clearly be for the rest of the season.

This unfortunate change will not go on forever. If the season resumed, they would start with the empty arenas to ensure the safety of players and fans alike. Once it gets better, fans should be allowed back in, but not all at once.

To start, arenas should give a fan limit on how many people can attend the game, maybe even start with just the family of the players and management. Once fans can be allowed in, they should sit two seats away from people to continue to ensure safety and practice social distancing. 

Once cases of COVID-19 continue to decrease, arenas should be able to change the rule to every other seat and then eventually be able to fill up arenas with fans in every seat.

However, some players are not for playing in empty arenas. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James stated in early March that he, “ain’t playing if I ain’t got fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates and I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about.”

[I] ain’t playing if I ain’t got fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for.”

— LeBron James

This might not be ideal for players, coaches, and fans, but it is the safest way for the NBA to resume back to normal operations. Of course by this time, media will be allowed in for TV coverage of the game, which allows sponsors and advertisers to return to the public eye again.

If arenas were packed right away, the virus could make a second wave, which would lead to even stiffer punishments not just for sports, but for the entire world. 

Just like avid NBA fans across the world, I’ve wanted the NBA season back since the second it was postponed. But I know that, with time, everything will be back to normal if the NBA works slowly to do so.

It may be one small step for the return of the NBA, but it’s one giant leap toward normalcy.