On Friday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with reporters where he claimed the NBA was coming back because "sports matter in our society." That's a hilarious way to reframe the league's return so it doesn't look like the naked money grab it actually is.
The NBA will relaunch its season in Florida, a state that has seen an alarming new spike in coronavirus cases over the last week. And we're supposed to believe that, despite that trend, the NBA is plowing forward simply because America needs sports, or something. Come on, guys. The league is going to finish the season so it can scrape as much revenue out of the 2019-20 campaign as possible. There's nothing wrong with that on the surface, let's just be honest about it.
Players, coaches and support staff are going to be put in harm's way for this restart. The league knows that, and on Friday Silver basically conceded it as fact:
The only way to insure no risk would be to cancel the season. That's not happening and it never seemed like an option. Many of the league's players will almost certainly be exposed to COVID-19 and will have to live with that risk. If they're all doing that willingly, I see no problem with it. But, again, let's not frame this like the NBA is coming back to bring people together.
Will fans feel a sense of community around watching sports again? Yes, but the NBA is not going to cure society's ills. It will be a nice distraction and, as someone who works in sports media, I'll welcome it. But we should be honest about why it's happening.
This is all about money. Money for the league, its partners, franchise owners and even the players. Yes, guys want to chase championships as well, but they want to get paid to do it. They're willing to be isolated in the Orlando bubble to make that happen.
I'll be happy when basketball is back on my television again. I got into this business because I love sports, I want them back more than you can possibly imagine. We should just be clear on why the NBA has decided to force a return and to do so in a virus hotspot. It has nothing to do with bringing people together.