Basketball is back in action for the first time since the suspension of the season in March. Fans around the world were devastated when the league made the announcement but now the NBA and its players are adjusting to the new norm playing without fans and experimenting with new approaches to the game.
Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers was the first player on the floor during Wednesday game against the Orlando Magic, lining up for the Nba’s first jump ball in more than four months. Both teams kept their distance on the court and played ball.
There were no fans cheering in the stands. Clippers took the win 99-90 victory. This game was slightly a big deal because for the first time two NBA teams had shared the same floor since the suspension of the season on March 11 after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus shortly before a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. After months of back and forth debate, negotiations, preparations about the return of the season resuming the league took what it regards as a significant step in its comeback by holding four scrimmages, 15 days after teams began arriving at the Walt Disney World campus.
Season opener set for July 30 to begin an 88-game schedule leading into the playoffs. Without the cheers of fans, this expected to be a new game but fans are still excited to watch from their homes.
“There’s no crowd energy, so the energy is going to have to come from the players,” said Joakim Noah, the Clippers’ starting center on Wednesday.
There are Video boards on the three sides of the arena visible to a television audience, most notably behind both baskets. Team benches have been replaced by three rows of socially distanced chairs on risers — with specific seating assignments for each player. Seats at the scorer’s table, between the two benches and inside the plexiglass, are also spaced out to encourage social distancing.
No national anthem was played before Wednesday’s game, still unknown if there will be the national anthem for future games but Black Lives Matter is a feature at all three game sites, emblazoned on the court in large lettering just in front of the scorer’s table. This is a new game new feel but players and NBA fans around the world are gearing up for the season live game action.
Featured Image obtained on the official Facebook page of the NBA