As with most leagues, there is a lot of uncertainty about the NBA’s plans to finish the season amid COVID-19. With games in front of a large crowd unlikely, the league has floated several ideas around to make up for its lost time. Las Vegas, New Jersey, and even the Bahamas have all been suggested. But one place might make more sense than them all, and that place is Disney World.
Where can the NBA play?
Many of the proposed places to hold games are in spots typically populated by a lot of tourists. This is important. While basketball is what would bring everyone together, they’d also need a place to keep the players, coaches, and staff. Each place has its draws.
Players would have to find places to sleep that are cut off from the outside world. Furthermore, every place will need a basketball court and proper facilities for practices and other events. With 30 teams, this would be an enormous chore for most markets throughout the world. But the ones listed are unique thanks to their abilities to handle events and large crowds.
Las Vegas and Atlantic City are two major contenders. After all, Vegas is the home to a 30-team Summer League every summer. So, it shows an ability to host all the teams without major drawbacks. Right now, its streets are emptier than they would normally be. However, as things open up, keeping all the players locked up could lead to problems if there was a major outbreak.
Hosting in the Bahamas is a further out idea. It is, after all, an entirely different country. However, just like Vegas and Atlantic City, which draw in millions thanks to their ample supply of hotel rooms.
Basketball at the Magic Kingdom?
The Disney World idea was first proposed by Yahoo! Sports reporter Keith Smith, who proposed it on April 16. Smith, who acknowledged that playing in Disney World sounds like a joke, broke down why Disney World is the ideal place. For one, it is a resort that exists on its own. Players wouldn’t have to worry about getting the virus from the outside if everyone inside was tested and random people were not constantly in contact with them.
Disney World, which covers nearly 40 square miles, has thousands of hotel rooms, plenty of places to eat, and even entertainment for players who need some place to go during their off days. While Disney World might not seem like a bastion for basketball, ESPN’s Wide World of Sports can offer practice facilities.
The nearby HP Field House can also host multiple games at once if the league decided to do so. The NBA would not be worrying about fans, so the idea of playing games side by side is not completely out of the question. Most importantly, Walt Disney World creates a proverbial bubble in which everything is heavily regulated. Nobody would be in and out without heavy testing to ensure that a COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t happen throughout the NBA.
Disney owns ESPN and has what it takes to film the games, even if they are filmed differently than a normal NBA game. Furthermore, sports have been deemed essential in Florida, if the league decided to take them at their words. Smith presented a compelling argument, and now the league may actually follow through.
Commissioner Adam Silver has been in touch with Disney CEO Bob Iger throughout, but hurdles remain.
When will the NBA return?
June, July, August, September, the league is hoping that the NBA can return as soon as possible, but it is also being cautious. One bad move could be devastating to the league. If the season isn’t canceled altogether, look for it to start later than expected and potentially move the following season forward.
With so much uncertainty, the NBA is still trying to figure out what’s next. Disney World provides the best means to start a season, but with so many outliers that go beyond sports, everything at this point is idle speculation. Still, if the NBA does play the remainder of the season there, the player who holds the Championship trophy won’t need to go far to fulfill the age-old adage of going to Disney World after their impressive feat.