The league unveiled the courts on which the 22 teams playing in the league’s attempted restart of the 2019-20 season will take place. The NBA logo is splashed across center court and the phrase, “Black Lives Matter,” runs along the baseline, along with the motto of this year’s restart: “Whole New Game.”
The NBA opened with its first set of scrimmages on Wednesday, featuring coaches prowling the sidelines and referees scooting up and down as usual. But the vibe remained odd. The Lakers play their first scrimmage on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
Most significant, of course, is that there will be no fans present. Rather than follow the example of, say, Korea’s baseball league, which packed the stands with an array of oversized stuffed animals, the NBA has put up large video screens along the sidelines where fans would be.
There was nothing piped into the video screens during the scrimmages, but there could be in the future.
Lakers star Anthony Davis gave it a preliminary thumbs-up.
“I think it’s pretty cool how they’ll have the big monitors, where you can have your family, friends, fans, whoever, kind of be in the arena,” Davis said in an interview with reporters. “I think that’s a pretty dope idea. I know they’re still trying to figure out some things as far as lighting and sound and stuff. But I think the whole concept of it is pretty dope.”
Players Will be Able to Scout Other Games
In all, there are three locations at which games will be played, all on the campus of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Disney World in Orlando: the VISA Athletic Center, Wide World of Sports Cheer Arena (which is being called, “The Arena” during the NBA’s time in the building) and HP Field House.
All are within a five-minute walk of each other. That could allow for players to stroll to other venues to watch opponents play. There is a section marked off for other teams to sit and watch games.
Davis did not seem big on the idea of hanging out to watch other games, but considering the limited entertainment options available to players during their time in the so-called “bubble” environment, he thought he might wind up doing so.
“I am not sure,” Davis said. “I’ve got to look at the schedule and see who is playing and stuff like that. But there’s not much to do here so go out and watch some other teams and scout a little bit I might end up doing it.”
For Anthony Davis, It’s All ‘Away Game Routines’
No matter what, it’ll be an adjustment. On the benches, players are socially distanced, not sitting clumped together alongside courtside fans as they usually would be. The official scorers’ crew is seated behind what the AP called, “an oversized hockey penalty box.”
And even when there are home games, there will be no usual pregame routines. Davis shrugged that off, though.
“Just kind of treat it as an away game routine, treat it as that format,” he said. “There’s nothing that I did specifically that will alter my pregame routine.”
Davis did say that it has been nice to be able to walk around the area with his peers without having to worry about security or harassment. There was some concern about the fact that Disney was opening the parks as the NBA players were getting underway.
But there have been no problems with the league’s “bubble” being punctured.
“It’s more just a safety thing,” Davis said. “There’s no one allowed in here who is not allowed to be in here. So a lot of guys are safer and able to walk around, and kind of do your own thing. I think that is what everybody was kind of worried about before, with the parks opening—how secure was the campus going to be, the bubble going to be? When we got here we saw it was pretty secure and took that off our shoulders a little bit.”