With some NBA teams to soon open their practice facilities to players, hope for a resumption of the NBA season — or at least the playoffs — springs eternal. Even if the reality is nobody knows if this is all going to come together.
Milwaukee and its fans are at the front of the line wanting to see the NBA return — for the first time in decades the Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, are legitimate title contenders.
However, their Sixth Man of the Year candidate guard George Hill cautioned against moving too fast. Hill took part in a conference call with the media and said there are things more important than basketball to be considered (hat tip Sacha Pisani of The Sporting News).
“I’m a little 50-50… life itself is bigger than the money aspect of the game. Yes, as competitors and athletes we want to play this season. But if more lives are in jeopardy, I couldn’t care less about the season. Life is way more precious than this ball that we play in. If they cancel the season, as an athlete I would be upset, but we can’t do anything about it. If we play, I’m excited to play again and get back on the court. We had something special going on and I’d love to finish it.”…
“The world is bigger than just NBA fans. To our fans, it will be exciting to get the season back, to get it up and going and get something to watch on TV. But if this is the cost for safety and health, what we have to ask is, ‘Is it worth it? Is it worth putting yourself on the line, putting your family and kids on the line to make a couple more dollars?’ For me, personally, no.”
There is an eagerness on the part of all of us to start moving back to normalcy — or what will be a “new normal” — but experts warn too fast a push will lead to a second wave of the virus. And we’re not entirely on top of the first wave, yet.
Hill is pumping the breaks on that eagerness with a reminder of the larger reality.
If the NBA returns this season — and that remains a big “if” — it will be without fans in a “bubble” setting in Las Vegas or Orlando or wherever. The idea is simple: Bring all the players, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, referees, broadcasters, etc. into one location, test everyone regularly to make sure they don’t have the virus, have everyone live/eat/play games inside this bubble and finish out the season and playoffs. The logistics and challenges make this idea anything but simple (China has tried to do it and twice had to push back the start of their basketball league). Still, it’s more likely than arenas full of fans watching games, followed by players on cross-country flights for the next game.
Adam Silver has said the health and safety of NBA players and staff will be the top priority in any plan. Most people around the league believe that’s what he will do. Hill wants to hold him to that standard.
The only question is, can that standard be met?