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Outside the Bubble, the NBA Is Already Struggling

Ryan Phillips
Adam Silver, 2020 NBA Finals - Game Three
Adam Silver, 2020 NBA Finals - Game Three / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NBA pulled off a monumental achievement to finish the 2020 season by creating a wildly successful bubble in Orlando. The 2020-21 season will not be conducted in the same way, and the pitfalls of that decision are already apparent. It took all of one day for the league to postpone its first game of the new season.

Without the security and tight protocols of the bubble, things could get dicey for the NBA over the next few moths. The NFL and MLB both faced major problems with their non-bubbled seasons, as a litany of games were postponed and rescheduled, and a number of players opted out. And both of those leagues played most of their seasons when COVID-19 infections were at much lower levels than now. If the NBA's teams and players don't take this seriously, it could be headed for disaster.

Already it appears players aren't as locked into the protocols as they should be. James Harden and several of his Houston Rockets teammates broke them before opening night and could be sidelined for a while. That's not a great start to things.

Commissioner Adam Silver needs to come down hard on all of these violations. The NBA lost so much money last season it can't afford to have huge swaths of games delayed or canceled. The league needs to nail this like it did the bubble, or all the goodwill it gained in Orlando could be lost.