NBA aims to start 2020-21 campaign with fans

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NBA targets 50% capacity for new season Image:

The National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball league is aiming to fill up their arena suites from 25 to 50 percent capacity from the beginning of the upcoming 2020-21 campaign.

The Board of Player Representatives of the National Basketball Players’ Association (NBPA) has tentatively approved a start date of December 22, 2020 for the 2020-21 NBA seasons and a 72-game schedule.

A statement sent out by NBPA read, “Additional details remain to be negotiated and the NBPA is confident that the parties will reach agreement on these remaining issues relevant to the upcoming season.”

The union is in talks with the NBA to determine how much will be deducted from players’ salaries because of the shorter-than-usual season, and how the league and the players will navigate testing and other health and safety issues as coronavirus continues to attack US with full force.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is an American men’s professional basketball league. It is composed of 30 teams and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. It is the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.

The National Basketball Players’ Association (NBPA) is a labor union that represents National Basketball Association players. It was founded in 1954, making it the oldest trade union of the four major North American professional sports leagues.

The league will reportedly depend on official guidelines set down by the local health officials to determine overall seating capacity, and wearing of face masks by fans will be made mandatory as well as observing social distancing until the COVID-19 situation comes under control when the season begins, most likely in December.

As COVID-19 pounced on the world this year, like most major league sports in the United States and world over, the NBA’s 2019-20 season was suspended in March, but resumed the season in July behind closed doors at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida (US).

The season featured 22 of the 30 NBA teams and concluded with the NBA Finals, which ended on October 11th. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated Miami Heat 4-2, winning its first NBA championship in 10 years.

The games were a closed door affair, but the NBA invited more than 300 fans to appear live on the ‘Michelob Ultra Courtside’ 17-foot video boards surrounding the court for each fixture.

Training for the 2020-21 seasons is expected to start from December 1st. The condensed schedule is expected to include baseball-style road trips to limit travel.

The decision to start the 2020-21 campaign so soon just after the past season has ended not so long back came as a bolt from the blue for the players.

However, as per media reports, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver informed executives from the league’s 30 teams the urgency behind its proposed pre-Christmas start, If the season opens in January, the NBA reportedly projects between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue losses shared equally by owners and players. That is in addition to the reported shortfall of more than $1 billion last season and an estimated $4 billion in losses related to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on game-night income in arenas sans fans.

The above explanation of Silver was enough to convince players – many of whom have not played since the suspension of the 2019-20 seasons in March – to approve the December start.

Still in negotiations is a salary escrow. Media reports stated that the NBA has proposed placing 18 percent of player salaries into escrow, a portion of which would be returned to the owners if salaries exceed the players’ 50 percent share of all basketball-related income.

Media reports further had it that the NBA reportedly expects to conduct a play-in tournament between the Nos. 7, in both conferences (Eastern Conference and Western Conference) that could recoup a portion of expected losses. That could recoup some of the expected revenue losses, along with loosened guidelines on income related to hard alcohol, sports betting and casinos.

The December 22nd start increases the likelihood that the NBA can return to its normal 82-game schedule for the following season, beginning in October 2021. However, everything depends on whether the coronavirus storm settles down.

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