NBA Resuming Season At Disney World? Yahoo’s Keith Smith Reveals Update

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, at right

Getty Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, at right

The coronavirus pandemic has put the NBA season on hiatus.

Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers were primed and ready for an NBA Finals appearance and now many wonder if the NBA season will ever resume.

Million dollar question: Will it?

Last week, NBA insider Shams Charania tweeted that one possible playing ground for the NBA could be Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida if finishing the NBA season becomes safe for the league and their players. players.

That idea was originally conceptualized by Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith in an article written on April 16.  Charania furthered the conversation.

Smith knows the Disney landscape. Before becoming an NBA writer, the rising star was a Walt Disney Company employee for nearly 20 years, working primarily at Walt Disney World and in his article cited that Disney has an abundance of hotel rooms on their 39 square-mile property near Orlando, Florida. “Two hotels would work particularly well for this type of venture: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort,” Smith said.

“While neither are necessarily the high-end hotels that NBA players are used to staying in, they come with a key perk: Both are located just down the road from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.”

On this week’s episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Keith Smith detailed his thoughts on this idea becoming a reality and more.

Check out notes from our dialogue below:

Keith Smith on NBA potentially playing at Disney World and he put his story together:

“Basically how it came together, once it became clear that the shutdown wasn’t going to be just for a couple of weeks, because remember when they shut it down and we all thought, ‘This is going to for two weeks and then we’re going to be back at it…’ and it became clear that we were going to be here for a while. When we started here all of the single site locations potentially under consideration and immediately everybody went to Las Vegas. And this was a month or so before anyone was presenting plans before there was really any serious talk. And that makes sense because Summer League’s there, and the whole league is there for a couple weeks each summer so, that made sense to me. Then it got a little more serious of hey this thing is under consideration. The more and more I thought about it, Las Vegas makes some sense, but there are a lot of flaws for me in that plan especially around creating the bubble and those kinds of things. So what I did was, I said that Walt Disney World makes a lot of sense too; why that came to me is because I used to work for Disney for nearly 20 years. My mass majority of my time in Florida was in Walt Disney World and I know the property more than anybody’s going to know it. I reached out to a couple of people that still work for the company, I loved working for Disney and three weeks before the season shut down, they covered the NBA full time. So my timing was impeccable. My timing was absolutely impeccable on that one [laughs]. So what I did was reach out to a couple of people and said make sure you fact check me on this, make sure I get the facts and figures right and then I told my editor at Yahoo, ‘I got this plan. What do you think?’ and he said, “Let’s run with it.”

Keith Smith on how his reporting and how it was different from Shams Charania:

“I think, and I don’t know this…I haven’t spoken with Shams about this. My guess is that Sean must have spoken to someone in the league and they probably said it’s under consideration. Now I had heard that as well. I heard from the league the day the article posted which was on April 16th I believe. We heard from the NBA and all it was a very short note saying: “Thank you for thoughtful and thorough proposal. We appreciate it.”… And there wasn’t a we’re considering this, this is a done deal…nothing like that. And that’s pretty common for the NBA. They’ll reach out to folks on occasion when there’s something bigger, a more league wide piece is written and like so, that was very nice to get. My guess is Sean, a couple weeks later, got some more details from someone with in the NBA and said, ‘Yeah that Disney plan is something we’re really considering ‘… and when he put it out there, I mean he’s Sean. He’s kind of the number two dude behind Woj so, that would make sense that it would blow up from there.”

Keith Smith on whether the NBA season will continue:

“I think in some capacity they definitely come back. I don’t know if it will be here in Florida or in Las Vegas or somewhere else entirely, but I do think that they are going to come back. If you would’ve asked me this a week ago, I might’ve told you, I don’t know. It’s starting not to look so great. It’s late in April and we really haven’t had any news, things aren’t really improving at all and things aren’t really improving enough… but over the last week, before leading up to Shams’ reporting about the Disney idea and some reporting that the league was motivated, that was the sign I was getting. Talking to players and teams, everybody seems to be pretty consistent and wanting to finish this thing out. Now that rumble of optimism seems to be varying on whether you’re going in be in the playoffs or not, pretty optimistic to the ones that are the title contenders are very optimistic…the rest are a liitle less and also it varies on the type of player. The lower end roster guys, the ones that make “only” a million dollars; those guys are motivated to finish out the year and get their full pay. So it’s very different but I say that there’s a ton of optimism from everybody involved and the cool thing for me is, it’s not just the league that’s optimistic or just a team that is optimistic, or just the players. It’s everybody on all sides. They’re saying, ‘Hey, let’s get this thing done. We wanna finish out this year and we wanna crown a champion.’”

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