2020 – the most interesting year in sports history, especially in basketball. A bubble in the “happiest place on Earth” aka Disney? I don’t think that was in anyone’s dreams, including the Saturday Night Live crew. It is time to say farewell to 2020.
It was arguably the hardest year financially and also emotionally. March 11th, 2020 is now a historic day in history. The day the sports world shut down. The NBA suspended its season for a few weeks, later resulting in a full postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a year full of darkness, there is indeed some light in the tunnel. It’s time to say farewell to 2020.
Farewell to 2020
While this year was a victory in sports due to actually hosting events, it was a bigger one for basketball. After the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) became the first sport to start, the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver finalized their plans for a league restart in the Orlando, Fla. bubble. However, 2020 reminded us of a critical point. Some things are beyond sports.
Social justice became more prevalent and even more recognized than ever, particularly with the George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake protests against police brutality in the black community. Both the NBA and WNBA were the first leagues to emphasize the importance of ditching the “stick to sports” mentality. Sports were historically organized in the United Kingdom for political reasons.
Asides from awareness, you cannot forget the feel-good stories as well. Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban helped admit former NBA player Delonte West to a rehab facility after discovering him homeless in the city. LeBron James has continued his work with the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, which is scheduled to be fully operational in 2022.
The fans missed out on the game experience and engagement for most of 2020. However, the NBA’s partnership and fan engagement teams utilized virtual fans to help give some cheer in a dark year. Both leagues had zero cases in the bubble and “wubble.”
High Hopes for 2021
Of course, the most heartbreaking moment in 2020 was the sudden death of Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a helicopter crash that took away seven lives, including his daughter Gigi Bryant. It shook the entire sports world, including myself, who idolized him growing up. Every team decided to pay tribute by starting the tipoff with an eight-second backcourt violation, followed by a 24-second shot clock violation.
The NBA bubble concluded with a beautiful Cinderella story when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in six games for their seventeenth NBA Finals victory. The league shortly held a virtual NBA Draft, where 60 players heard their names called on television, knowing that their hard work paid off as they settle into the big leagues. Training camp and preseason followed. Now, we are a week into the 2020-21 season, 71 days after the Orlando bubble ended.
On December 30th, San Antonio Spurs’ assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first woman to work as an acting head coach. Gregg Popovich was ejected in the first half in their 121-107 loss against the Lakers. It was a historical way to end a very hard and unique year.
What does this mean for 2021? The NBA will continue (hopefully) on this season, along with the WNBA likely aiming for a return in the summer. Meanwhile, safety protocols will still be in place and fans will likely have to wait sometime before watching live games again. Until then, farewell to 2020 and on to 2021.
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