Coronavirus-NBA Winners and Losers

Covid-19 has changed regular life and for many the consequences have had a devastating financial and personal cost. Lives have been lost. Money has disappeared. Social distancing feels like house arrest absent the ankle bracelet. Many are anxious, depressed, and lonely. Drinking beer and smoking marijuana are the easy coping mechanisms, now that sports is no longer available to distract.

Restaurants and retail stores going dark have put many in financial peril. How are they going to make rent? Schools across the country are closed. Stress has begun to seep in. Without NBA games to act as a diversion, the days feel longer and longer.

Adam Silver wants the NBA to be the first league to return to the airwaves. It feels organic since the NBA was the first league to close its doors. But the country has to move past this 8 week moratorium issued by the CDC.

Social distancing, as a policy, has to be modified or continued in its present form when/if the league returns. Arenas have to be able to fit both the NBA and NHL teams into the schedule, since both share space. And sports fans have to be ready for games to come back. Once the weather heats up, it’s going to be harder to sell stay in your house in front of your television. Forced captivity will be over.

About that captivity. This morning I wanted to see who was actually obeying the stay home order that Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti had initiated. I went to a strip mall in a black neighborhood close to home. The check cashing place was closed. The liquor store was open and had a line at 9 am, everyone looking for a way to cope. I stood in line to buy the local black paper and was told it was free. The Subway had take out only. A shoe store was closed but I noticed people surreptitiously coming in through the back entrance. The nail shop was open. I guess getting nails done is an essential service.

Very few cars were on the road though. Most seem to be taking the situation seriously. Everyone has had to adjust quickly, particularly NBA fans who were nearing the end of the season and anticipating the beginning of the playoffs. Then it was snatched back.

As in all things epic, there have been coronavirus winners and losers.

The Winners.

  1. Paul George. He was struggling with injury but the time off will let him heal.
  2. LeBron James. #WashedUpKing gets a mini vacay just when his body was beginning to feel the fatigue of the season. LeBron was in full playoff mode after the All-Star break. Now he can rest his aches and pains.
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo. His knee injury isn’t going to cost his team wins. He’ll be recovered by the time games return. Good news for him. Bad news for the league.
  4. Rudy Gobert. Donovan Mitchell. Kevin Durant. Christian Wood. Marcus Smart. They allowed their names to be the public symbols of asymptomatic athletes with Covid-19.
  5. Memphis Grizzlies. They don’t have to worry about the hardest schedule left. Even if the league begins a 8-10 game schedule, no will catch up to them. They’ll get the 8th seed.
  6. New York Knicks. No games means no pointless conversations about the Knicks collective catastrophe
  7. Adam Silver. Because of his aggressiveness, thoughtfulness, reliance on proven medical professionals, and creativity, he remains the most trusted sports commissioner in the United States.

The Losers

  1. Rudy Gobert. He is being blamed for Covid-19 entering the NBA. Viruses are non discriminatory. If it wasn’t via Gobert, it would have been through someone else. Maybe a fan asking for an autograph. However, Gobert’s immaturity was 8th grade-esque.  Illness isn’t a joke.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers. They had momentum with huge wins over the Bucks and Clippers. Now they’ll have to dig deep to find the energy that had them in peak playoff form.
  3. Philadelphia Sixers. Not enough games left to do much climbing in the standings. Chances are they have no home court series. Their abysmal road record is their flaw. Ben Simmons injury may see a return for Simmons in the playoffs or he may be out the rest of the year. It is tricky when it is a pinched nerve.
  4. The NBA. Ratings have been down all year- the Steph Curry effect. The NBA was hoping to elevate their product during a playoff run that had intriguing headlines and elite players trying to get to their perspective conference championship. Now everything is on hold.
  5. The Olympics. If it is not postponed this year, it will be missing a lot of star talent who are preoccupied with getting to the NBA Finals.
  6. Us. No games. No basketball. Ugh.