The 2020-21 NBA season has begun. Preseason games dominated last week and the regular season starts on the 22nd. December, only 71 days after the NBA final.
After the successful conclusion of the 2019-20 season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, the league – with the exception of the Toronto Predators – returns to its home markets before the start of the season. Over the past two weeks, players and coaches have discussed the challenges they will face this season as the COVID 19 pandemic spreads across the United States.
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Carl Anthony Towns talks about his mother’s death and how he took responsibility for the safety of his family.
Chris Paul, Phoenix Sans: Everyone involved – league, union, players, teams, everyone – works every day to find out. It’s new territory. When we were in the bubble, it was something no one had ever seen, and everyone worked as hard as they could to make it happen. Again: What we’re doing now with all those protocols and tests, I’ve never seen that.
Jailen Brown, Boston Celtics: KOVID is still there and is still hiding in certain areas. So you should know that. I’m not sure it necessarily works if we go to certain places and do things like that. Will the season be stopped? Is this going on? Is there a house reserved during the season? I’m not sure about that. Some of these variables may work.
DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets: It’s really weird coming to the office. We’ve never had to deal with this problem before in another season. We’re practicing. Take a test. You do one more test, then you wait in the car until you get a negative result, and then you can go upstairs with a mask and do your individual work, you lift up and get out, and you go home. And so will you the next day. I think we have done a lot of work to stay as safe as possible and to take this issue as seriously as possible.
Joel Ambide, Philadelphia 76: I know I’ll do the right thing, like I said before the bubble. So the question is whether everyone else will do the right thing. I hope everyone does the right thing and doesn’t endanger anyone. But it’s certainly very disturbing, and I just hope that everyone is safe and that I’m safe too.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: We listen to the experts and what happens to the climate as far as Kovid, and we keep your family in a mask when we leave the house or whatever. And be careful where you go, be careful who you’re with. Now you’re just trying to do everything you can to protect your family. And I hope you can stay safe and sound. I think that’s the most important thing, the most important thing.
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Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics: Boys really need to be aware of their responsibilities and take them seriously, be professional and try to follow the rules and regulations of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and everything they do to keep themselves and others safe.
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons: Of course I’m biased, but I think the NBA is doing its best not only to ensure the safety of the players, but also to give our opinion on everything that happened last summer, including what will happen in the future. Not only the NBA, but also the [National Basketball Association] work together to make our voice heard.
Centave Caldwell-Pop, Los Angeles Lakers: I think it will be a bit difficult because we are in our cities and in our places. Without being in the bubble, I feel like it’s getting risky. But the competition still checks us every day for VIDOC, which is a good thing. I like it. That way everyone is safe.
Jared Dudley, Los Angeles Lakers: None of the players undertook to return to this bubble. During the 72-game season, away from home and in the NBA, the rules were stricter than ever. First we have to give them credit: We haven’t had any positive tests, as far as I know. But because of the stricter rules, no player will sign. But I think it’s a new standard for us. … Kovid stays here. So you just have to get through it.
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76: I look at what’s happening in the world and it looks like we’re going to stop again. It’s very important. … I think we should do our best to follow protocol, protect each other, protect the team and just see what happens.
The NBA is back! See all activities for the 2020-21 season on ESPN, ABC and ESPN App.
Sunday the 13th. December:
– Clippers in the Lakers, 8:30 on ESPN.
Thursday the 17th. December – Networking at the Celtics, 8 p.m. ESPN.
All weather conditions in the east
Luca Donsik, Dallas Mavericks: During this [pandemic] there will be another season. Some players get a crown, get sick, are not on the team [within] 10 days. So I think it will be a big part – which team won’t have [COWID-19] positive people. We’ll spend a lot of time together, and I think that’ll be the key.
Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors: I think you should just treat [positive tests] like an injury. And you just have to have the following mentality. I believe in the guys we have here. And the guys on the team, the coaches, who put us all in the best position to win. We’re all competitors here. We’re all fighting. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz: It’s not football you can play once a week. We play two, three, maybe four times a week, and at the end of the day, when the playoffs come, you miss those four games, you never know what can happen, especially in this very busy western conference.
Alex Caruso, Los Angeles Lakers: I think it’s as unpredictable as ever. The fact that we don’t even have a plan for the whole season shows that this year will be unpredictable, doesn’t it? … Honestly, I think the NBA is really well positioned to spend an entire season and make it work.
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Lebron James says he’s surprised at how quickly the NBA starts his season and explains why it gives him more rest during the season.
While eight teams hadn’t played an official NBA game since March, the Lakers and Heath finished the 2020 NBA final just 71 days before the start of the season. Several players asked us about the long layoffs or short replacements they will have to deal with this season.
Jailen Brown, Boston Celtics: We have had discussions and discussions about when the season should start and they have been the most important in terms of, you know, business and finance, starting with or around Christmas. So I was for what I saw on paper. … Given what we see on paper and what we voted for, I had no problem with that. I’m young. I don’t need too much time off.
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets: Some teams were 10 months old. They could have had a whole baby on the way, and we all had it, 60 days, 2 months. So everyone’s going to look at the file and what we’re doing, and each team is different from the others with the virus.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: Me, too. Wow. And I said: Oh, with… To be honest, I didn’t expect this, because there were some preliminary discussions and I heard that there would be something like the start of the training camp in mid-January, and after Christmas – the training camp. We will have the opportunity to spend Christmas with our families. So I had planned a break, a holiday with my family, so we could go somewhere, which of course I couldn’t do because I was playing in the league. So I had to change a lot of things when I was 22 years old, from the beginning. December.
Markyff Morris, Los Angeles Lakers: No one knew when the season was going to start, so we had to keep ourselves in shape somehow. So we played for a year.
Zack Avalanche, Chicago Bulls: Basketball is my life. I didn’t stop. I was angry that we didn’t make it to the bubble. It was really nice to see basketball again and keep playing, but it was hard to sit and watch without being there, so I practiced without a break, and now that our season is back in full swing, I am very happy and excited that it worked out.
Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers: The fact that I wasn’t with my teammates for so many days, more than 200 days, was a mental retreat for me, but I kept in very good contact, at least on the phone. … If she goes to court, I think the transition will be easy for us. Of course it won’t be perfect, it won’t be infallible, but I think we have a lot of guys who are willing to work hard and overcome these mistakes to make a better team.
Nikola Jokich, Denver Nugget: All [the off-season trial], everything’s closed. I have been to the gym a little less often [than during the low season]. I have to reduce my expenses by a week without doing anything and then by a week just for the weight room. Honestly, it was good. In a way, I like it because the training camp isn’t that long.
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers: It will certainly be a disadvantage for teams that started the qualifiers too late compared to teams that did not leave the bubble and were at the beginning of the bubble.
Most NBA teams will play for empty arenas at the beginning of the season, a bit like players who played in a bubble of experience, but something new for part of the league.
Zack Avalanche, Chicago Bulls: This has always been an entertainment game, and if we don’t have fans, we still hope to provide that kind of excitement to our fans and fan base. If we do that, we just need to be sure, and the fans need to know that we have to keep the distance, not just for you, but for everyone, to be sure and keep doing it.
DeAndre Bembry, Toronto Raptors: Unfortunately we couldn’t get into the bubble last year [with the Hawks], so I still have to get used to the lack of fans and the ability to bring my own energy and the whole environment, because I haven’t been able to go through the process yet, but since I’m in this organisation, I don’t think I’m going to worry too much.
Dwight Howard, Philadelphia 76: I want the stadium to be open so that all fans can gather and be together right now. I think unity brings change and I think here in Philadelphia we have a chance to do something that could unite not only Pennsylvania, but hopefully many basketball fans around the world. … I miss the fans. I’ll tell you. Playing for the fans is probably the best experience. … I really appreciate the fans, even the bosses, talking nonsense, I think it keeps me going.
Victor Oladio, Indiana Pachers: To say that we don’t miss the fans in the arena is just a lie. We want her there. We need the fans in the arena. They’re playing games. The excitement, the energy, all thanks to them. So we absolutely want them to be there and we miss them, but at the end of the day we have to make sure they are safe and they have to make sure they are safe, because life is much more important than basketball.
Mark Gusol, Los Angeles Lakers: I need to explain a little more why some arenas do and some don’t allow fans to be in the arenas. I understand that different states have different laws, but I think we should have the same laws for everyone. That’s just my opinion. But that’s what we talked about. It is clear that this situation is constantly changing for everyone. We’re lucky to be in a very safe environment. The NBA, the Lakers and Los Angeles County are doing their utmost to make us as safe as possible and have a lot of protocols and things that we go through every day, as well as our staff. We’re very grateful to you.
Utah Jazz is one of the few teams that has announced its intention to start the season with fans in the arena, who can host up to 1,600 people, who are socially remote from each other and from the players.
Rudy Robert: I think if they do, they probably have the scientific evidence that it’s safe for us and for the fans in the room.
Derrick Favors: I think it’s amazing and I hope that everyone can stick to the safety protocols and that we can keep bringing in more fans.
Donovan Mitchell: We have to be careful, we have to be careful, but in the end, if it’s safe, I’m happy that we are one of the teams that have fans and it will be great to play for the local fans.