After a long hiatus, the NBA is getting set to restart next week. Players are down in Orlando’s ‘bubble’ and are taking part in exhibition games, getting ready for the stretch run of the wacky and wild 2019-20 season. There will be a new look to the NBA with zero fans in the stands and some players wearing social justice messages instead of their own names on the back of their jerseys. The players are also getting together to break the rules when the season tips off.
NBA set to restart July 30
The NBA season came to an abrupt halt on March 11 when it was announced that Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The league shut down due to the pandemic and was in serious doubt of returning. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had several different plans and finally decided to resume the season in Orlando on July 30.
No fans will be allowed to watch the games in person and a total of 22 teams were invited to take part. Every team will play eight games which will help determine playoff seeding. Sixteen teams will make the playoffs which are scheduled to begin Aug. 17.
Once the playoff teams are determined, the league will play its usual postseason format. Each round will be best-of-seven beginning with the first round and followed by conference semifinals, conference finals and NBA Finals.
Messages will be allowed on jerseys
The NBA is allowing the players to choose from a list of 29 social justice messages they can wear on the back on their jerseys when the season resumes. According to Newsweek, players will don messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Power to the People” on the back of their jerseys, replacing their names. Players are not required to have a message on their uniforms.
In a statement, the NBA said it hopes to use its platform to bring awareness to the issues of social injustice. “A central goal of our season restart will be to utilize the NBA’s platform to bring attention and sustained action to issues of social injustice, including combating systemic racism, expanding educational and economic opportunities across the Black community,” the statement read.
While some players are upset that the message list is limited, Jared Dudley of the Los Angeles Lakers is behind Silver. “I just think the NBA, we lead,” said Dudley. “Adam Silver, to me, is the best. He’s trying to make it right, trying to bring awareness front and center.”
NBA players are expected to break the rules on opening night
For years, the NBA has had a rule that players must stand for the national anthem “in a dignified manner” prior to their games. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was fined $32,000 when he refused to stand for the anthem as a member of the Denver Nuggets in 1996. After the fine, he stood for the anthem, but bowed his head and prayed.
Sam Amick of The Athletic said he’s hearing that some players, possibly even full teams, will kneel when the anthem is played. Amick wrote: those who would know within the league are expecting some players to peacefully protest the national anthem when it’s played before games that begin in Orlando on July 30.
Amick also said one agent predicted entire teams may kneel. He went on to say that one of his sources said that the league would not discipline players who protest peacefully and respectfully.