Tonight, the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers will meet in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals.
That statement alone still doesn’t seem real.
Back in March, things felt a lot different. People were, and are still, dying. Millions were, and are still, scared. Trump didn’t, and still doesn’t, have a plan for COVID-19. And players were, and still are, reeling from Kobe Bryant’s death.
Putting the season on hold after Rudy Gobert became the face of coronavirus in American sports was the right thing to do.
But, trying to restart it?
I thought Adam Silver had lost his mind, because to me, canceling the season was the right thing to do.
My bad, Adam. I was wrong, and you were right.
The Bubble has been a basketball fan’s dream, and the leading torchbearer in American professional sports as the NBA and WNBA have shown that sports can take place during a global pandemic if there are zero-tolerance policies — shout out to Danuel House — daily testing, and a ton of protocols and procedures to keep everyone safe.
The idea of successfully executing that felt impossible in March, but here we are in October, getting ready for an historic NBA Finals.
Besides the breakout performances and the memorable series that have occurred on the court, The Bubble has been the place to be when it comes to racial and social justice demonstrations in the sports world. Because while the phrases on the backs of jerseys and the plastering of “Black Lives Matter” on the court are a constant reminder of what’s going on in America, the NBA and WNBA took kneeling to the next level, reminding us just how stupid Jay-z’s 2019 comments were when he said, “We’ve moved past kneeling.”
But, the most important thing that’s happened in the restart is when the Milwaukee Bucks decided that they weren’t going to play Game 5 in their first-round series with the Orlando Magic after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wis., just for being Black.
It was a moment we’d never seen before, as protests that started in the NBA and WNBA spread across the country, causing all sports to stop for at least a day. For once, Black NBA players decided that they weren’t going to keep being America’s entertainment so that Americans can escape the realities of racism.
That realization wouldn’t have happened without The Bubble.