The fate of the 2019-2020 NBA season currently hangs in the balance. Will the teams return to finish a truncated playoff tournament, or has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response rendered a comeback useless? Teams and league officials are exploring multiple options at the moment.
One of the possibilities is a complete cancellation of the season. But there’s at least one NBA superstar who’s hoping against hope that it won’t come to that — LeBron James.
Reports about the fate of the 2019-2020 NBA season
According to one CNBC report, team executives and player agents are currently pressuring the NBA to shutter the rest of the season. Why, exactly? It all comes down to the bottom line. One anonymous team executive reported that owners don’t see a comeback making financial sense at this point:
“What [owners] are saying is, ‘If we return, where is the revenue that is going to justify the additional cost of returning? They are looking at the cost side versus the revenue side. What revenue comes in now?”
The major issue right now is a lack of communication. Teams and agents feel left in the dark as the league hasn’t expressed its thoughts on a plan moving forward. That may well be because they haven’t come to terms with the fact that the season is unplayable at this point.
As much as those around the league would like to see a resolution to the season, the current landscape doesn’t seem to permit a return. The logistics behind it, no matter what the plan is, almost seem too unreasonable.
LeBron James’ response to the rumors
Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, LeBron James reacted coldly to rumors that NBA teams would play with no fans. He eventually backed off this statement before the league suspended operations. Now James has sounded off on rumors of the NBA’s apparent demise for the season, and he’s not altogether thrilled about it:
“Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.”
While James may insist that “nobody should be canceling anything,” it’s not really up to him. It’s not even really up to the NBA — public health concerns take precedence over the league’s desire to finish its season. Safety concerns will ultimately determine the best course of action.
Why LeBron James wants to see the 2019-2020 season play out
Surely, every NBA player would rather play than not play for the rest of this season. For LeBron James, it’s about more than collecting a paycheck, however. He’s been in the league since 2003, making the playoffs the majority of those years. As great an athlete as he is and as great as he’s been, everyone breaks down at some point. For James, there’s no telling how much longer he can play.
It would be charitable to say James has five great years left — the number of NBA players who remain superstars deep into their 30s is small. That means that to add to his legacy, James only has a few more legitimate chances to win a championship. This year could have been one of those years as the Lakers looked like real title contenders.
With the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance airing on ESPN, James’ legacy is coming into focus as he gets compared to Jordan. For James to challenge Jordan’s supremacy, he’ll need to win a few more titles before he’s done. That means he needs as many opportunities as he can get, which will (hopefully) include this year.