The 2020 NBA Draft made it official: There should never be another in-person professional sports draft. The NFL was given an impossible situation back in April and they pulled it together on short notice. The NBA, with a few months of practice with actual games, basically perfected it.
Seeing these players at home, surrounded by their whole families, is infinitely more interesting than seeing them sitting in a green room. Remember Joe Burrow's curtains? Without a virtual draft, we never see Joe Burrow's curtains. It's a joke, but it's also true. That's his home and the touch of home is important.
At a traditional draft, Obi Toppin never has a moment like he did last night. Surrounded by his family, he was comfortable enough to be overcome by emotion. The moment got to breathe. In 2019 he gets a couple hugs and then he's on stage 30 seconds later for an awkward family photo with Adam Silver and maybe we never see how happy he and his family are to be going to the Knicks. You might get Tre Jones's story, but not with his mom by his side.
Draft night is the culmination of a lot of hard work for these people and their families. Being able to celebrate and then just enjoy the night has to be better than getting rushed off stage, hanging out somewhere unfamiliar and then finding their way back to a hotel room in Manhattan.
The technology is clearly here. We've been using it for years and now it's a part of our everyday lives. Malika Andrews seamlessly pulled off interviews and it was better than the face-to-face interviews conducted over crowd noise at previous drafts. You get to ask a question or two and if there's nothing there, everyone moves on.
Between picks the NBA went back to their various studios. Analysts analyze. Woj and Shams break trades. It was all tight. There's just no reason to do this with guys on an island in a sea of screaming people.
And we know you can still have the screaming people if you really want. The NFL incorporated virtual fans, even taking the opportunity to let them boo Roger Goodell. After using virtual fans in the bubble, the NBA went without. I'd argue it's better without fans, but the good part about this is that you can basically put a dial on the wall that says "FANS" and turn it up or down whenever you want.
Another thing about everyone hosting their own little party is that there is no limit to how big or crazy they will be once the pandemic is over. You can stay home or you can rent out a ballroom. Every player gets to make their night whatever they want to make it.
Most importantly, there is no more Brady Quinn sitting in the green room for hours. Yes, it's great content, but it must suck to live through it. When a guy starts to slip, producers can just leave him alone. And he's not sitting in a room full of strangers. Then we he gets drafted you get to pick up on the happiness and relief. While drafts are are about teams and assets they're kind of about the people whose names get called, too.
Isn't that what is most important? Yeah, the draft is a way for a team to improve, but for the kids involved, it's about accomplishing their dreams. It should be a happy night for them and a celebration for the league as they introduce future stars to their fans. The best way to do that is with a quick glimpse inside their lives. And what better way to do that than with a look at their families in their living rooms?