Otago Daily Times

NBA faces ques­tions over fu­ture

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LOS AN­GE­LES: As the NBA bursts its bub­ble fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the fi­nals on Mon­day, the league now faces tough ques­tions about when next sea­son will be­gin and what it will look like.

The league’s three­month stay at Walt Dis­ney World in Or­lando was a huge suc­cess, no play­ers or coaches test­ing pos­i­tive for Covid­19 af­ter the virus de­railed the sea­son in March for four months.

LeBron James and the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers de­feated the Mi­ami Heat to win the cham­pi­onship and cap a thrilling play­offs.

But even though the en­vi­ron­ment was safe, liv­ing on the cam­pus re­quired ma­jor sac­ri­fices, and there is lit­tle ap­petite to re­turn any time soon.

‘‘I think you wouldn’t be hu­man if you didn’t have ups and downs in the bub­ble,’’ James said.

‘‘At times I was ques­tion­ing my­self, ‘should I be here? Is this worth sac­ri­fic­ing my fam­ily?’ I’ve never been with­out my fam­ily this long,’’ he said, not­ing that he missed his son’s 16th birth­day.

The 2020­21 cam­paign was slated to tip off in De­cem­ber but few ex­pect that to hap­pen given the league just wrapped up the long­est sea­son in its history and fi­nan­cial agree­ments still need to be ham­mered out.

The NBA has al­ready pushed back the draft from Oc­to­ber 16 to Novem­ber 18 and Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver has said he does not ex­pect the sea­son to be­gin this year — Jan­uary or pos­si­bly Fe­bru­ary seem more likely tar­gets.

Sil­ver, how­ever, said he hoped to play a full 82­game sea­son and play­offs in home are­nas with fans de­spite the still rag­ing pan­demic, which has killed more than 214,000 peo­ple in the United States.

‘‘Noth­ing has re­ally changed with this virus,’’ Sil­ver said last month.

‘‘In fact, I think the ma­jor­ity of states right now, cases are tick­ing back up again.’’

He said he hoped ad­vance­ments in rapid test­ing could make a big dif­fer­ence in terms of the league’s abil­ity to po­ten­tially get fans into are­nas.

‘‘I think ev­ery­body un­der­stands just like in the coun­try, there’s pub­lic health con­sid­er­a­tions, but the econ­omy is a pub­lic health is­sue, as well, so we’re work­ing and try­ing to strike that right bal­ance,’’ he said.— Reuters

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LeBron James

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