How Orlando became the basketball capital of the world

Learn the details of the most difficult decision for the best basketball in the world in its history .

Players on a basketball court.

Orlando became the host city for the end of this season in the NBA. / Photos: Unsplash - Reference Images

LatinamericanPost| Onofre Zambrano

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Leer en español: Así se convirtió Orlando en la capital mundial del baloncesto

The decision is made. The NBA deploys a never-before-seen logistics device to gather more than a thousand people inside a bubble, without contact with the outside, to play basketball and end an unusual campaign of 90 days starting July 31.

The reason they set their sights on Disney World is because the sports complex meets the ideal requirements to manufacture the appropriate stage to avoid the pandemic and resume the League.

The NBA is the professional sports league that has the most pressure to resume its campaign since the Major Leagues were barely in preseason when the pandemic began, the NFL was very far from starting, and the NHL does not have the national and global diffusion of the rest .

The hardest part of all this was deciding whether to play the playoffs instantly, or whether to play the remainder of the regular season with the teams that could still qualify. For justice, the latter prevailed.


First things: Health control

Of course, everything will be under one premise: health security through 15 thousand rapid, simple and reliable tests for coronavirus. The order is that the personnel who do not present symptoms of disease do not practice them to avoid adverse reactions from the American population that may consider it a comparative grievance.

To ensure strict adherence to safety protocols, ESPN's Tim Bontemps confirms that the NBA will utilize local, state, and federal safety agencies, as well as private entities contracted for the occasion and who would act off-campus.

Experts point to weekly tests, while radicals prefer the tests to be daily. But the most delicate point in this is that the NBA cannot use tests if there is no availability for public health in public and private hospitals for ordinary people. Applause for Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, who said "first the sick, then us."

In the case of players, prevention will be established in three phases. The first, two weeks in quarantine in their cities, the second with individual work from home, and the third, already in the wards, two or three weeks of group training.


More losses than gains

The inevitable is that this is already a season with losses, so the NBA, like the MLB, protects itself from further losses. The non-sale of tickets (because there will be no public in the stands ) plus other items typical of a normal season indicate that the losses exceed two billion dollars.

The franchises that will continue to compete are those that still have mathematical possibilities to play the postseason along with some virtually classified.

According to ESPN, the league had to shell out more than $ 150 million to make it possible to end the season in Walt Disney territories. "We feel the obligation of our sport and the industry to find some normality even though it is not cheap, on the contrary, it is extremely expensive," Silver told Time Magazine.

In total, just over 100 regular-season games remain to be played plus the traditional four rounds of playoffs. Players will at least retain more than $ 600 million in salary, which they would have lost in case of a canceled season. 

This is not an unprecedented season for the NBA, since it already lived similar situations in 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2011. In the case of the last two mentioned there was a cut of 32 and 16 days of the regular phase, but a cut with a negative impact like this has never happened since the league's birth in 1946.

Also read: The favorites to win it all in the NBA

Why Orlando?

There will be 22 teams that will play the rest of the campaign and logistics personnel must be attached to them in three different accommodation centers, and in charge of food, transportation, daily tests for coronavirus, security, medical support and, incredible as it may seem, entertainment. 

An approximate 33 days playing two games in various pavilions to finish the regular season and 55 more days for the playoffs, with a minimum of free dates that allow for rest.

The program establishes that the perimeter that involves hotels and other establishments necessary for people without entry credentials will be closed. To do this, an intelligence center will be set up to monitor threats and checkpoints for the benefit of those authorized.

The Disney World ESPN Wide World of Sports complex has three sports halls and hotel capacity on 89 hectares. The pavilions are the HP Field House, and an adjacent gym, both with good capacity, although they do not need an audience this time. There, WNBA and JR NBA Global events have been held.

Up to six basketball courts can be installed in the Visa Center. There is also The Arena, a gymnasium enclosure, but which is adaptable to basketball.


The not so positive

It is precisely the player's familes that will have to make the most sacrifices, because it is unknown what impact it can have on the players to be away from their loved ones for such a long period of time.

As expected, the decision has also met critics within the same circuit. They are former player Patrick Ewing, 57, and coaches Gregg Popovich (71) and Mike D'Antoni (68), infected with Covid19, as well as the assistant coach of the Toronto Raptors, the Italian Sergio Scariolo.