It will just feel weird.
If the NBA returns this season, it will do so without fans. The games will be played in a “bubble” — in Las Vegas or Orlando — where players, their families, plus coaches, trainers, and more will live, eat, work, and sleep. The games will be broadcast, but there will be no crowds, no fans in attendance.
Vince Carter was asked about playing without fans during Sacramento’s The Grant Napear Show with Doug Christie on Saturday, and he said NBA players have to adapt to changing situations all the time (hat tip Clutch Points).
“I’ve been dying to answer this question… When you toss that ball up and competition starts, and you’re in battle, how often do you worry about the fans? Yes, you hear them cheering, and booing you, I get that. But you’re in competition, you’re in battle. You should be focused on the guy in front of you, or the task at hand.”
Responses have been mixed to this idea of fanless games, but players have come around to it as the only way to finish out the season. LeBron James has been the most obvious example, at first saying he does what he does for the fans and only wanting to play in front of them, but that position has softened and now he is pushing back on talk of canceling the season.
As another coach told me, most of the time players are playing with no fans in the crowd — every practice, every scrimmage, every summer run in the gym at UCLA or in Manhattan. Players are used to this, they will adapt very quickly, the coach said. Carter echoed that same point.
The only question is, will we get to see Carter play again? This record 22nd one is his final season, and if the NBA returns and jumps straight to the playoffs the Hawks are done, they are not in the top eight. We may have seen Carter’s final shot.
Whatever is next for Carter, we know the next place we can see him will be his Hall of Fame induction in a handful of years.