The NBA‘s theme for its “bubble” restart playoffs season was one of racial justice, but the professional basketball league gave new context to Black Lives Matter when its playoffs ended Sunday night without a single person testing positive for the coronavirus. It showed not only that employing the right strategy can help contain, or keep out, the virus, but also that it was taking the health seriously of its athletes, most of whom are Black.
And as Covid-19 continues to disproportionately affect Black and brown people, that’s no small feat, a truth that prompted people across social media and pundits alike to credit NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with making all the right moves while the American government does not.
LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA title Sunday night when they beat the Miami Heat four games to two in the best-of-seven-games Finals series. His statistics for the series included two straight triple-doubles to close out the Finals and being awarded the most valuable player award. But as impressive as that was, the larger health implications were impossible to ignore as both just the American government but other professional sports leagues were being plagued by the pandemic, all of which lends even more credence to Silver and the NBA’s approach for their own league’s games.
After the NBA was shut down in March following several players testing positive for the coronavirus, but the league started back up in July in a “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Florida near Orlando. Out of 172 games played and thousands of people all but sequestered on the sprawling campus, there was only one coronavirus scare — and that turned out to be a nothing burger.
That was last month when there was a cheating scandal that had nothing to do with the sport of basketball. Instead, Danuel House, one of the players for the Houston Rockets, was kicked out of the Bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida near Orlando because of suspicions that he had inappropriate contact with an unidentified woman in his hotel room. House is married, but his wife and children were not in the Bubble with him.
Normally, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal as we’ve all heard the rumors of how professional sports stars get down when they’re on the road. But in this case, the NBA created the Bubble to specifically keep it coronavirus-free in order to ensure and maintain a safe and healthy playing environment for its games, players, coaches and respective staffs.
So, according to Silver’s strict zero-tolerance policies, Huse had to go. And he did. Quickly.
But the NBA’s product never once suffered, aside from lower ratings than normal that Donald Trump falsely attributed to the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the meantime, hundreds of the world’s top athletes remain healthy amid a global pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans and infected more than 1 million around the world.
According to the president, “it is what it is.”