The NBA has become a staple in many lives around the globe.
Each game is watched live by an average of two million people. Every year, fans tune in to watch their team compete.
The NBA season is filled with highs and lows; each team hoping to win the championship. This season shaped up to be one of the most competitive in years.
For the first time in five years, this season was unpredictable. Five teams had genuine cases to win it all, as opposed to just one or two in the last couple seasons. Following the demise of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty; the NBA was finally balanced.
But on March 11, everything changed.
Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in a domino effect.
Fans frantically refreshed Twitter in hopes of finding out more. The Jazz game scheduled for that night was canceled, followed by two more canceled games. Multiple teams were asked to self-isolate. Soon after, the season was suspended indefinitely.
I remember that night vividly. I was out with my friends when I got the initial notification.
I watched as the situation unraveled, reading each new update from Bleacher Report. Before it was announced, I knew that the season was going to be suspended. I thought about how just a few days prior, I was ecstatic that the Lakers beat fellow contending teams; the Bucks and Clippers on the same weekend.
Now, there might not be a season to come back to. And with no guarantee that the season would resume, fans were upset, including me.
Some harassed Gobert for contracting the virus and leading to the suspension of the season. However, it was a matter of time before an NBA player caught it.
Others lamented over the possibility of a wasted season. For the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, this season was their best shot at winning a championship, causing their fans to be outraged at the potential cancellation of the season.
As a Lakers fan, I was crushed at the possibility of a canceled season. Lakers fans have waited seven seasons to make a return to the playoffs, and to capture their first title since 2010. Being one of the favorites to win it all, the Lakers could not afford to have a wasted season. Many believed that this was their best shot to win, so potentially losing that chance upset many Lakers fans.
With a few exceptions, the NBA has always run from October to June each year. Fans would plan their schedules so they would be able to watch their favorite team play.
And in the span of a day, it was yanked away.
For teams such as the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, Celtics, and Raptors, their championship hopes were in limbo. Suddenly, NBA fans had nothing to do except hope that the season would resume.
Months went by, with no news on the status of the season. The only notifications included newly infected players.
Every day, I hoped for news on the possible season resumption. This could not be it for my team. We need this title badly.
Eventually, fans started to accept that the season may not resume.
Then on June 4, it was finally announced that the season would continue in July, taking place in Orlando.
For fans of 22 teams, their season was not over.
Fans erupted at the news, excited to watch the rest of the season play out. Before long, the NBA fan bases went back to normal. Fans of rival teams started warring with each other again, and everyone began predicting the result of the resumed season.
The NBA was back.
For me, this meant that the Lakers’ title hopes were still alive. With a few months of rest, the older players would come back rejuvenated and ready to deliver the franchise to their seventeenth championship.
Later in June, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving called for the cancellation of the season. He stated:
“I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy.”
Irving referenced the Black Lives Matter movement at the time. He and other NBA players believed that the resumption of the season would be a distraction from more pressing matters.
Los Angeles Lakers player Dwight Howard stated:
“I agree with Kyrie (Irving). Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction. Sure it might not distract us the players, but we have resources at hand majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop.”
Some fans agreed with the two players. Others bashed them, not wanting the season to be canceled. With the season so close to resuming, fans did not want it taken away from them again.
Multiple players decided not to play in the resumed season. While many fans supported the players’ decisions, others did not. Such fans did not want their teams to be under-manned.
Lakers’ starter Avery Bradley was among those that chose not to participate in the resumed season. Being a vital player on a championship contender, fans were understandably shocked. I was disheartened but understood that his decision was for the sake of his family. Some fans cyber-bullied him for leaving the team during a potential championship run.
But the season did go on and from the looks of it, the Lakers are doing well without Bradley. The Lakers are leading the series 3-2 entering Game 6, which will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The season has been packed with thrillers and game-winners ranging from Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker’s game-winner over the Clippers to Lakers’ Anthony Davis over the Nuggets. Multiple playoff series have gone to sudden death games, with no winner apparent until the final seconds.
And now the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers are battling for the title.
For most NBA fans, this is what they’ve been waiting for. A chance to cheer for their team and to have basketball back.