We're coming up on two months now since the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. In the initial aftermath, everyone believed the situation would be a brief hiatus, and things would resume as normal later in the spring or summer.
By now, it's clear that simply isn't happening. Even if there is basketball this summer, it will be unlike anything we've ever seen. The league is discussing a bubble environment, possibly in Las Vegas or Orlando, where there will be no fans and limited personnel. And it's still unclear whether they'll finish the regular season or go straight to the playoffs.
Trying to figure all of this out is a logistical nightmare, and with the virus far from under control in the country there's still a very real health risk involved. One thing that's clear, however, is that most players and teams want to finish the season if possible.
Shaquille O'Neal, however, doesn't believe that's a good idea. In an interview with For The Win, the Hall of Famer said the league should just pack it in and start planning for next season.
I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there's an asterisk. They're not going to get the respect. What if a team that's not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.
Look, I understand how players are feeling. I really do. But any team that gets it done this year, there's going to be an asterisk on that championship.
While most of the discussion about how to finish the season has focused on the health concerns -- and for good reason -- O'Neal brings up a relevant point.
Is it worth it to go through all of this trouble, and put so many people at risk, just to get a result that everyone is going to side-eye anyway? Even if by some miracle they're able to play a full playoff schedule with seven-game series, and everyone stays healthy, it's just not going to be the same to win the title in an empty gym in Orlando.
It goes without saying that the health of the players and coaches should be the main priority for teams and the league, but this is definitely something worth adding to the discussion. Perhaps it would be better for everyone involved to just pack things in and get ready for next season.