‘Twas the night before basketball, and all through the bubble; NBA players are stirring, for they return on the double…
After 141 grueling days of life without meaningful basketball, we can finally say what we have been longing to say for oh, so long:
THE NBA IS BACK!
Phew, that felt good. For a second, it got to the point where I wasn’t so sure I was ever going to be able to say those four words in unison, but somehow, here we are. Come Thursday afternoon, NBA players will lace up their sneakers and trot onto the hardwood to play consequential basketball for the first time in roughly five months.
With the league finally coming back to the forefront of our schedules, it is so easy to look forward to the madness that is guaranteed to ensue within the unparalleled, first-of-its-kind, NBA bubble. However, as Matthew McConaughey once stated in one of his now-infamous Lincoln commercials, “Sometimes, you’ve got to go back to actually move forward.”
Granted, those commercials might have been enough to make a memory-foam mattress feel uncomfortable, but upon remembering that statement and oddly thinking of how it pertains to the current state of affairs within the NBA, McConaughey was spot on with his assessment. After all, picturing the upcoming playoffs becomes substantially less exciting if you fail to recall the seemingly infinite number of storylines from where the NBA left off in mid-March.
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Is LeBron James‘ late-season push enough to catapult him over Giannis Antetokounmpo in the MVP race? Can the Los Angeles Lakers commemorate the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant with a championship? Who will close out the year as the final playoff seed in the Western Conference? Are the bite-sized Houston Rockets beginning to find their rhythm? Can Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks wreak havoc in the playoffs? Will the Los Angeles Clippers figure out their inconsistency issues? With his notable improvements this season, how great can Jayson Tatum become? What makes the Miami Heat such a dangerous team? Are we ever going to be able to take the Philadelphia 76ers seriously?
Just based on those questions alone, this NBA season has been one riddled with varying magnitudes of drama, curiosity, and entertainment. Wildly enough, those very questions above do not even cover a significant percentage of the endless list of narratives this season has had to offer. Because of these narratives—and despite the reported rating decline—this NBA campaign has, in my opinion, been the most exciting professional sports season in recent memory.
So, when COVID-19 began to sweep the globe—thus leading to the NBA suspending its season until further notice on that fateful March 11th night—it came as no surprise that many die-hard fans of the league became shrouded in confusion. The craziest NBA season in what felt like forever was being undone by… an even crazier, once-every-century global pandemic? I’m sorry… What?
It didn’t feel real when the news was first announced, and it still struggles to feel real to this day.
But, again, here we are. 141 days removed from the league pulling off its best Jon Taffer “Shut it down!” impersonation, the NBA has returned. So, with all of the terrific plots this season provided, I felt it would only be right to make a brief list of the things we most want to see within the NBA bubble from here on out.