For National Basketball Association fans, news that practically all players want to return to the court as soon as possible can’t but be deemed positive. Even with the Board of Governors expected to unanimously fall behind Commissioner Adam Silver in his plan to restart the 2019–20 campaign with a mishmash schedule that incorporates a truncated transition to the playoffs, genuine safety concerns still exist at a level that presents not insignificant risks to purveyors of the league’s principal product. Having them compete in a bubble and limiting their physical contact with extraneous quarters present a whole new set of complications.
The fact that players want to, well, play speaks volumes of their mindset. They feel they’ve already been cooped up much too long for comfort, and thus cannot wait to get reacquainted with the sport they’ve been part of practically their entire life. Which is why they’re willing to accept a reasonable measure of risk in so doing. Needless to say, trust weighs heavily in their decision. They’ve long known Silver to consider their interests in every big decision the NBA has made, and are happy to see union head Michele Roberts and representative Chris Paul strongly advance their cause as well.
The irony is that dismay from among the ranks, if any, has to do with the prospect of their continued inactivity. With the league bent on minimizing health issues by limiting the number of teams to be called to action, stalwarts wearing the colors of those left out are consigned to wonder when they can resume the practice of their profession. In this regard, choices for the immediate term inevitably affect the foreseeable future. When will the 2021–22 season begin? No, scratch that: When will preparations for the 2021–22 season begin? There are tolls exacted by the absence of physical and emotional well-being.
Nonetheless, there can be no denying the strides the league has been making in establishing a new normal. True, the Board of Governors’ vote is just the start of a long journey. There remains much to be done. In the wake of complicated and contentious deliberations between pencil pushers and practitioners in, say, Major League Baseball, however, the NBA is revealed to be far ahead of the curve. It’s all credit to Silver and to his enlightened constituency. Full transparency works, and, in this particular case, appears to pave the way to success.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.