Fans and analysts alike are firing up the creative processes of their brains to concoct a realistic scenario in which professional sports could return in the span of six-to-eight weeks. It's a tough exercise because based off the opinions of various medical experts, things are still in the process of getting worse before they get better. The return of sports may yet be a while coming, but coming up with scenarios in which they return earlier than expected is helpful in keeping us all optimistic.
To whit, Jay Williams took a crack at an outside-the-box scenario on Golic & Wingo this morning in which the NBA could not only return, but play a full playoff bracket when June rolls around. How might they do this? By holding the playoffs ... on a pair of cruise ships.
Here's the essence of Williams' thoughts on this idea:
"Maybe you can take two of those massive cruise ships and there's testing before everybody goes on the ship. You allow the player and their immediate family, being their wife or their kids, are allowed to go with them. You have an Eastern Conference cruise ship and you have a Western Conference cruise ship. Obviously they're being sterilized all the time and media companies are able to drop their equipment in. You never really go to shore, you stay out on the cruise ships and you build two courts on those cruise ships. I know fans may not be allowed to go, but still, the broadcasting companies could actually broadcast these games, team members and their family members could be isolated to a degree for that span of 40 days, whatever it may be. Then you're allowed to potentially have these games. You go right into the playoffs, maybe you give a week for each team to prepare, but you go right into that for the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Then you have a championship game on a cruise ship. "- Jay Williams
First off, I've never seen as many ideas that would benefit cruise ships getting thrown out into the hemisphere in my life than I have over the last several weeks. I must've missed the memo where cruise ships were considered an essential business alongside grocery stores.
Williams' suggestion isn't too different from the other "biosphere" ideas that we've seen over the last few weeks. The basic principle of finding an isolated environment for players to play the games remains the same. But it remains a tough sell.
In this scenario, Williams says players would be allowed to bring significant others, But cruise ships obviously have a hard ceiling when it comes to max capacity. Even if you only brought playoff teams, that's 15 players per team, most of whom are at least married, if not with children. Then there's the coaches and training staff to account for. If teams went absolutely barebones in terms of personnel, that's still probably about 25-30 people for each of the 16 teams. Then there are the referee crews, TV crews, and maintenance crews in charge of constantly disinfecting the ship. The NBA would surely rent the biggest of cruise ships if they decided to go in this direction, but if they come close to max capacity, who's going to give up bringing a family member along just to play basketball games?
That's only considering immediate family, too. Many of these players likely have relatives who are in the most affected age range. If the NBA dictates a player can bring his wife and kids, but not his mother-in-law, would every player still agree to go? I don't find it likely. That brings up the next issue: if, say, Danny Green, a key rotational member of a championship-caliber Lakers squad, decides he'd rather not go, who could the Lakers replace him with? Would they be allowed to replace him at all?
These are issues that come along with any isolation experiment, not just Williams' idea. Holding the playoffs on a cruise ship is definitely one of the more unusual ideas suggested, but the core problems remain. As is often the case nowadays, there are no easy answers.