NBA considers holding playoffs in Las Vegas


Levon Satamian, Reporter

The NBA suspended its season on March 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It all began when the Oklahoma City Thunder were going to face off against the Utah Jazz. Thunder guard Chris Paul went by the Jazz bench to see if everything was okay with Jazz center Rudy Gobert, and Gobert’s teammates did not allow Paul to see him or talk to him.

Reports came out a couple of hours later announcing that Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus. The next morning it was announced that Gobert’s teammate, Donovan Mitchell, had tested positive as well. Gobert and Mitchell, along with a couple of other NBA players, were cleared about two weeks after testing positive for the virus.

The NBA, MLB and NHL could lose up to $1 billion in ad revenue, according to a Sports Illustrated article. The alternative to that is holding the NBA playoffs in Las Vegas. If the NBA resumes in Las Vegas, that means they will likely play with no fans in attendance; only family members and close friends will be allowed entrance to watch the games.

For me, it will feel like I’m watching a scrimmage game because I have never seen an NBA game with no fans in attendance. However, due to current circumstances, it is obviously necessary for the NBA to take precaution.

Some NBA players have sounded the alarm that they may not play if no fans are in attendance. One of those players, LeBron James said, “I still think, like, having a game without fans is just — what is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’? There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth.”

James later changed his stance and said, “Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that is what I play for, I play for my family, I play for my fans. They say no one could actually come to the game if they decide to go to that point, so I would be disappointed in that. But at the same time, you’ve got to listen to the people that’s keeping track of what’s going on. If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it.”

It’s still uncertain how much longer the season will be suspended, and it’s not guaranteed that the season will continue. However, if the playoffs are held in Vegas, a CNBC report speculated that the league could play best-of-five series in the first round and the NBA Finals.

If the NBA season resumes, there is a good chance we could see a battle for LA in the playoffs between the Lakers and Clippers. The LeBron-led Lakers are on a mission to win a championship for the late great Kobe Bryant. I don’t think the Lakers will have a challenge reaching the NBA Finals. It looks like the Miluwakee Bucks will be the team that survives in the Eastern Conference, which will set up an interesting NBA Finals series.

This will definitely change the fan experience at NBA games going forward, as fans may need to practice social distancing while being seated in the arena. The game won’t be the same without fans, and it will be weird to watch a game with little to nobody in attendance, but the fans will be happy with any type of basketball at this point, as long as teams compete.