Welcome to morning target practice, where every day of the week you will receive an up-to-date and current column from one of the SI.comNBA Writers: Howard Beck on Mondays, Chris Mannix on Tuesdays, Michael Pina on Wednesdays, Chris Herring on Thursdays and Rohan Nadkarni on Fridays.
The Bucks won the NBA Finals and their victory over the Suns raised the usual questions that arise after a championship. Is Giannis Antetokounmpo the best player in the world? Can the Suns run another title? What does the loss mean for Chris Paul’s legacy? Not all of those questions may be the most exciting contribution to the speech. Still, they are better than the questions that were asked at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, such as, Can the NBA finish the playoffs without a bubble? Are the coronavirus protocols working? Was it a good idea this season? It was certainly a bumpy ride to the end, but now that the season is over, it looks like the NBA is finally back on track.
It almost feels like last December’s basketball happened a lifetime ago. We are just months away from the days when COVID-19 outbreaks canceled wide swaths of games, ILLEGAL handshakes after the game, empty arenas, and the especially dystopian image of masked dancers performing for no one with loud music still echoing through. of the Speakers. Contrast that to the Finals – hugs and celebrations, fans filling the stands, only one player (and no stars) wasted time due to COVID-19 protocols and an overall typical feel and look of a championship sporting event.
That’s quite a significant achievement for the NBA, and the league is indebted not only to the experts who designed the plan and the players who suffered numerous inconveniences to achieve this season, but also to the arena workers, the team’s personnel. and basically everyone behind. the rarely mentioned scenes that allowed basketball to take place. The exciting conclusion to the Finals, which featured two great teams participating in a close series, as well as Giannis’ legendary performance, also sets the stage for an intriguing offseason. Can the Lakers be players in free agency? Will the Warriors trade their draft picks for another star? How will the Nets continue to complete their rotation around their Big Three?
Of course, the return of everyday NBA conversations does not leave behind the pandemic that is still ongoing. The The delta variant is clearly causing a resurgence in cases across the country, particularly among the unvaccinated. Mask mandates are making a comeback in places that had previously removed them. And starting an NBA season in October once again after a shortened hiatus is sure to have more mental and physical consequences for everyone involved, from the coaches to the players to the parking attendants and everyone else.
Still, it is a massive victory and a sigh of relief for the NBA to be in this venue after a heartbreaking 16-month period that began with the suspension of the 2020 season in March of last year. Since then, the league has run the bubble experiment, crowning two champions, recouping hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, and going from playing in front of video boards packed with virtual fans to 65,000 people watching a Finals game. boards out of a sold-out arena. Even with coronavirus fears still very prevalent, on some level it was incredibly refreshing to watch a Finals game that was not a direct reminder of the tenuous reality that surrounded it.
None of this offers a guarantee that the next NBA season will feel completely out of the pandemic. Again, this country (and the rest of the world) is not out of the woods. New obstacles can arise at any second. And there is absolutely no consensus on the short- or long-term effects of throwing in so much basketball in such a short period of time, starting with the start of the bubble last summer.
But with the draft less than a week away, and the recruits actually allowed to attend, as well as free agency less than two weeks away, for the first time in a long time, it seems the focus within the NBA will just be on being in basketball. There are no questions at this time about protocols, multi-city bubbles, a reduced schedule, or how many “guest” players they can see along the way. Perhaps all of those issues will have to be addressed again at some level before the start of the season. But after a final that focused entirely on what was happening on the court, the NBA seems to be on its way to prioritizing the most important part of its product: the actual basketball that is played.
More coverage of the NBA Finals:
• Giannis Strengthens Legacy with Championship Win
• Bucks’ title marks satisfy tough season finale
• The Bucks’ long game pays off
• What’s next for Suns after Magical Run?
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.