July 29th, 2020
By Sam Crickey
At the Disney World Orlando resorts this week, the NBA is verging on it’s restart after four long months in purgatory. Over half of the league has begun to shuffle players into their luxury resort hotel rooms as games are set to resume on the 30th of this month-, but not without our share of soap opera worthy drama.
Rajon Rondo was the first to spark controversy after comparing his Grand Destino Tower hotel room to a Motel 6. Not only did this come off as ungrateful to a league that has done everything it could to get games back up and running, it was also incredibly tone deaf. Many Americans would never be able to afford to stay in a resort that expensive, not to mention over 30 million Americans are currently unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. Complaining about a luxury resort hotel amidst our current global climate reeks of pretension and made Rondo come off insensitively. Other NBA players such as Ja Morant were quick to express their contention with the quality of their hotel rooms and amenities.
One player on site has already been required to quarantine, though not because of a positive test. After Kelly Oubre posted a tweet about getting fast food into the bubble, Richuan Holmes of the Sacramento Kings did just that. He ordered food (said to have been Mcdonald’s Chicken McNuggets) from Postmates, thus breaching the bubble physically and by coming into contact with someone who is not in the bubble. Shortly thereafter, Holmes was forced to quarantine for 10 days and post a formal apology. Kelly Oubre, the man behind the operation, put it simply: “Nevermind lol.” Seems like fast food inside of the NBA bubble will be a pipe dream unless some other genius solution is found. My guess? players will cozy up to certain employees and entice them into sneaking in the contraband chicken nuggets for them. All that really means is that it will be tough work for Disney and the NBA to ensure these players remain inside the bubble.
Even tougher than keeping players from their chicken nuggets will be ensuring that the players do not invite women into their hotel rooms. As some personalities such as Stephen A. Smith speculated, players who are used to visiting strip clubs on road trips and having girls in every city will most likely struggle to go without. One unsourced woman on twitter claims to already have been invited in by an unnamed player and even claims to have gotten in. As hilarious as these players not even being able to go a day without a woman is, it poses a huge issue for the NBA. Can they keep their billion dollar bubble from popping? Just one player allowing a woman or a friend who is an asymptomatic carrier into the bubble could completely shatter their dreams of finishing this ridiculous 2020 season, and would be a complete monetary disaster for the league, ESPN, and Disney.
On the actual basketball side of the restart, many people claim this season’s champion will be “asterisked,” or not seen as legitimate. They claim that due to the long break and certain players deciding not to come (namely the entire Nets starting 5) that the eventual champion will not have earned it. To that I ask you to look back on not one, but two of my Washington Redskins’ Super Bowl victories. Both the 1981-82 and 1987-88 seasons were shortened by strike or lockout, one even had a Keanu Reaves movie made about it. Are either of these Super Bowls seen as non legitimate by the modern sports zeitgeist? The eventual 2020 NBA champion will play at least 16, probably closer to 25 or so playoff games on their path to the trophy. Meanwhile both of those Redskins teams played only three playoff games enroute to their Super Bowl victories. Sports personalities and internet users alike will attempt to discredit any championship that doesn’t fit their narrative of choice even without asterisks in place. Golden State fans may argue that injury luck and a suspension caused them to lose the 2016 NBA championship, while Cavs/Lebron fans may argue that after KD joined Golden State it was completely unfair and thus the 2017 & 2018 championships do not count. There will be no asterisk when this season is looked back on in the future. The team that hoists the Larry O’Brien Trophy will have earned an amazing accomplishment and should be looked back on as nothing but champions in the history books. We look forward to finding out who that team will be after the restart on July 30th, assuming the chicken mcnuggets and Orlando women stay away.
Special Thanks to Kate Rempe