The NBA’s 75th season is officially underway as the season kicks off with a Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers matchup.
The NBA shocked the world last season, pausing the season on March 11th, 2020 following Rudy Gobert’s COVID-19 diagnosis which resulted the NBA creating a “bubble” in Florida. The move resulted in success by keeping the season alive and crowing a champion without having to cancel the season entirely.
With the NBA forming a “bubble”, lots of other leagues followed by forming a “bubble” of their own. MLB created their own version of a “bubble” by hosting the playoffs in different cities and ultimately hosted the World Series in Arlington, Texas. The NHL also did their version of a “bubble” by hosting the Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton, Alberta. I got to say the NBA did a fantastic job with handling this virus in the middle of a pandemic with little to no information about the disease at the time.
To keep fans entertained during the NBA shutdown, the NBA did a “NBA 2K Players Tournament” that featured players such as Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker playing games on NBA 2K to see who will be the best 2K player. The tournament resulted in Devin Booker taking the crown by defeating his teammate, DeAndre Ayton in the best-of-three final. I got to say I was entertained to say the least with no sports going on at the time.
The NBA restarted their season in late July, nearly a 4 month layoff between games. 22 teams returned to action following the restart with the NBA going with a play-in tournament for the 8th seed in each conference. The move was quite entertaining as the Portland Trailblazers were able to sneak in the playoffs and kept the 8-0 Phoenix Suns from advancing. Key players stood out in the “Bubble Playoffs” such as Damian Lillard, Jamal Murray, Luka Doncic and Jimmy Butler as they had a good run in the postseason. The NBA Finals resulted in a matchup that featured the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat with the Lakers defeating the Heat in six games (4-2).
Last season saw some devastating news as the world learned of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant died of a helicopter crash, along with his daughter Gigi Bryant and seven others that were onboard. Following Bryant’s death, teams honored him by taking a 24 shot clock violation or a 8 second violation in remembrance of Bryant’s 8 and 24 jersey numbers with the Lakers. Many players around the league changed their jersey number that featured 8 or 24 to honor Bryant for instance, Terrance Ross of the Orlando Magic changed his number from 8 to 31. Kobe Bryant will be going into the NBA Hall-of-Fame in May of 2021.
Given what the NBA went through last season we saw a lot of players breakout including Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies winning NBA Rookie of the Year and Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans winning “Most Improved Player”. We also saw Giannis Antetokounmpo defend his Most Valuable Player award by winning it in back-to-back seasons. We also got to see the Los Angeles Clippers blow a 3-1 series lead to Jamal Murray’s Denver Nuggets in the playoffs that featured the firing of head coach Doc Rivers.
The NBA had quite an offseason that saw former Los Angeles Clippers player Montrezl Harrell signing with the rival Los Angeles Lakers and Chris Paul being traded to the Phoenix Suns. The biggest trade that caught everyone by surprise was Russell Westbrook being traded from the Houston Rockets to the Washington Wizards to team up with Bradley Beal. The Oklahoma City Thunder were busy acquiring several 1st round picks from other teams as they now have three first round draft picks in 2021 and four first round picks in 2023. The NBA had short turnaround with only 9 weeks between seasons.
The NBA is quickly here and it will be a spectacular one as several teams are looking for the elusive goal of winning a NBA championship. Each team is facing some storylines such as, can the Los Angeles Lakers defend their title? Will Luka Doncic advance further in the playoffs? How will the duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant play out in Brooklyn? Will James Harden stay in Houston? I guess we will have to see how this season will play out for different teams. In meantime, let’s just appreciate the fact that the NBA is here and we get to watch some basketball.