There are conversations being had everyday behind closed doors about what will happen with the remainder of the 2019-2020 NBA season. The largest motivating factor is, of course, the money – with its proclivity towards “talking”. While the owners of NBA teams (and players, to a lesser extent) represent a demographic of humans that can almost certainly withstand the fallout of a pandemic better than most, you can see their eyes are rather bloodshot behind their tinted glasses. However (comma) there are some owners – James Dolan, and Tilman Fertitta – who, despite taking off their glasses, showed their collective ass.
Even though Dolan and Fertitta were quite ham-fisted in showing how eager they are to bring the cash-cow that is the NBA back into the pen, their interests are still shared by most involved in that business – the NBA season should resume at some point, the earlier the better. And they will go great lengths to see this vision come to life.
Not only was the NBA deeply affecting in its decision to close things down, but it might be equally as impactful when it signals to the viewing public that they’re ready to kick things off again. It’s not a sure thing that the NBA would feel responsible for fans who would take this as an indication that the pandemic is on its last legs. After all, everyone has the agency to navigate the world as they see fit.
What is the trade off then? Are you providing a means of entertainment to a large percentage of the population that is still at home? Are you endangering players, even if it’s in a tiny way? Are you emboldening the public to return to usual? Even if the NBA isn’t its usual self, playing in empty arenas, with quarantined players (not 100% similar to the BIG 3, but using some of the same preventative measures).
It would be incredible to actually watch NBA basketball again. Being on staff at RR for two years (and being a reader for many years before that) I can confidently say I’ve never seen a team so well liked by the Raptors fanbase, as this years rendition. Nothing can replace the joy of last years playoff run, it was historic, but the motley crew that is this years team has teased optimism and fervor out of a lot of the most pessimistic Raptors fans.
It’s been long enough since I wrote my initial response to the NBA’s suspension that we’ve all had a chance to settle into this new reality, at least in some ways. And no matter what new or old hobby we’ve introduced to our life, nothing replicates being a basketball fan. The Toronto Raptors have left an indelible mark on all of our lives.
Watching some of the last years of Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol’s careers slip away to this is a bit tragic (some guy named LeBron James, too). Collectively, they possess some of the most gifted basketball brains to ever grace the court. We all come together, across the political spectrum and different religious backgrounds to watch this team. For anyone that doesn’t spend a lot of time on twitter, reddit, or this website – there’s a lot of people that spend large parts of everyday talking about the Raptors or the NBA. It’s ingrained in the quirks and rhythms of our existence. A unifying bond for the people who cheer for the Raptors, and a point of pride in conversations with people who have different allegiances. A real part of our lives.
All of that wonderful sentiment and meaning that we derive from this game is overridden by a need to protect the publics well being. Because, of course it would be. Outside of stretching our medical professionals to their limits, and crippling the economy, this pandemic is a test of our collective social conscience. An earnest plea to think about the larger implications of one’s behaviour, and to curtail it for the greater good. While the Raptors have left an indelible mark on everyone who would consider themselves a fan, this pandemic has done so regardless of how people might align themselves. It’s marched itself firmly into history, wide-reaching and all-consuming.
I’m excited to reconvene with all you people once this is over, whenever that is. For now I just wanted to check in, throw some words out there, and send well wishes to everyone. Stay safe out there, talk to your loved ones, and thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m actually very excited for when someone can grill me about giving Patrick McCaw a B+ instead of a C-.
Have a blessed day.