In six weeks, players will be taking the court for games in Orlando with no fans in the stands, something players are quick to admit will be a strange experience.
They might want to get used to it. The National Basketball Players’ Association expects no fans at NBA games during the 2020-21 season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. That came out of the Friday night’s 80-player Zoom call discussing if players should head to Orlando for the NBA’s restart.
That would be a financial blow to the owners and players. Commissioner Adam Silver admitted recently that 40 percent of league revenue comes from gate receipts from games. The NBA owners and players union are already discussing how to handle the drop in league revenue in terms of the salary cap going forward, no fans at NBA games next season would only exacerbate the problem.
Part of the logic behind pushing the start of next NBA season back to December is to allow more time for a coronavirus vaccine to be discovered, tested, then widely distributed, allowing for mass indoor gatherings again. The NBA realized that wasn’t likely to happen by December — the most optimistic timelines for a vaccine have it discovered by the end of the year, however, most experts expect it to come in early 2021 — but the hope was by starting late the league could get some games with fans in the building.
That the players’ union is planning no fans in NBA stands all of next season is a sobering thought. The NBA league office has to be preparing for this option as well while hoping fans will be back in the buildings at some point.
There being no fans in NBA stands next season was mentioned during Friday night’s players’ call, however, the main topic of the call was the Black Lives Matter and social justice movements around the nation, and how a return to play could impact those. There are some players, led by Kyrie Irving, who question whether the players should be part of an NBA restart at this time in the country.