Life in the Bubble and the NBA Playoffs

Joshua Lasarte, SPORTS EDITOR

  “BANG!” NBA announcer Mike Breen declares as Portland Trailblazers’ forward Carmelo Anthony makes a clutch three to push Portland into the playoffs. In an empty arena, the only noises are the excitement and disappointment coming from the two teams. 

   After the COVID-19 outbreak, NBA commissioner, Adam Silva made the choice to shut down the NBA for a week which eventually turned into nearly six months. Players, coaches, and staff members were left in the dark about when they might be back. Now the NBA is officially back on in Orlando with only 16 teams in the playoffs right now. 

   The NBA carefully laid out a plan to only allow certain teams in, hire more handpicked staff, and include testing for everyone. Out of the hundreds of COVID tests that were conducted, the NBA had zero positive results and no one in the bubble has been infected. Junior Anthony Fernandez said, “We’ve been waiting for this since March and I am so excited.” This excitement has been building for not only the fans but the athletes as well.

   During the bubble, players have been fishing, playing cornhole and volleyball, golfing, and even started a shotgunning challenge. Senior Frankie Pinales said, “It sucks that there are no fans but I’m still happy they are playing because I missed sports so much.” 

   These events look like an AAU competition because the players are hanging out with one other and heading to other teams’ games; but soon, players are going to be able to bring in immediate families and a few guests so that they are no longer in a hotel room alone. 

   Before the playoffs started, the NBA had each team play eight games in order to establish who is in the playoffs. Damian Lillard, point guard for the Portland Trailblazers was named the bubble MVP after averaging an absurd 37 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. Devin Booker, guard for the Phoenix Suns, came in second after leading his team to a perfect 8-0 record while averaging 30 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.

   With the first round of the NBA playoffs coming to an end, three eastern conference teams swept their opponent, while no one in the western conference has advanced. The Miami Heat swept the Indiana Pacers, the Boston Celtics swept the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Toronto Raptors swept the Brooklyn Nets. Sophomore Justin DeLuca said, “It’s crazy to see how dominant some teams were and how easily they won their series.” The Milwaukee Bucks lead their series against the Magic 3-1, the Rockets and Thunder are tied 2-2 along with the Mavericks and Clippers.

   Although people waited anxiously for the NBA to return, the ratings dropped by an astronomical 27% and 32% in viewership. During the opening day for the NBA, they lost nearly one million viewers. Many speculate that the dramatic rating drop has to do with all the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place. The NBA painted Black Lives Matter and allowed the players to change the last name on their jersey to matters relating to social justice. Players were given a set list of words and phrases that they could put. After the shooting of Justin Blake, the Bucks and Magic boycotted their game while the Lakers and Clippers voted to opt-out of the rest of the season.

   After months of waiting, fans and athletes finally had basketball back and everyone was enjoying it. Now the NBA season is in jeopardy with fans being left in the dark and the future being unclear.