NBA Finals brought back a sense of normalcy

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Welcome to the Morning Shootaround, where every day of the week you will receive a new news column from one of the SI.comNBA Editors: Howard Beck on Monday, Chris Mannix on Tuesday, Michael Pina on Wednesday, Chris Herring on Thursday, and Rohan Nadkarni on Friday.

The Bucks won the NBA Finals and their victory over the Suns prompted the usual questions that arise after a championship. Is Giannis Antetokounmpo the best player in the world? Can the Suns run another title? What does the loss mean for Chris Paul’s legacy? All of these questions are perhaps not the most exciting contribution to the discourse. Still, they’re better than the questions asked at the start of the 2020-21 season, like, Can the NBA finish the playoffs without a bubble? Are Coronavirus Protocols Working? Was this season a good idea? It was certainly a bumpy race until the end, but now that the season is over it feels like the NBA is finally back to normal.

It’s almost like last December’s basketball happened a lifetime ago. We are just months away from the days of COVID-19 epidemics canceling out wide play bands, ILLEGAL post-match handshakes, empty arenas and the particularly dystopian image of masked dancers performing. for anyone with loud music still blaring through the speakers. Compare that to the finals: hugs and celebrations, fans racing the stands, only one player (and no star) ran out of time due to COVID-19 protocols, and a feel and overall look typical of a championship sporting event. .

This is quite a significant achievement for the NBA, and the league is indebted not only to the experts who crafted the plan and to the players who have suffered many setbacks to be successful this season, but also to the arena workers, the members. staff on the team and basically everyone behind it. the rarely mentioned scenes that made basketball happen. The thrilling conclusion to the final, which featured two great teams putting together a fierce streak, along with Giannis’ legendary performance, also sets the stage for an intriguing offseason. Can the Lakers be free agency players? Will the Warriors move their draft picks to another star? How will the Nets continue to fill their rotation around their Big Three?

Of course, the return of daily NBA talks does not act on the pandemic that is still ongoing. The Delta variant is clearly causing a resurgence of cases across the country, especially among the unvaccinated. Mask warrants are returning to places that previously removed them. And restarting an NBA season in October after a shorter break will almost certainly have more mental and physical consequences for everyone involved, from coaches and players to parking lot attendants and everyone in between.

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Still, it’s a massive win and a sigh of relief for the NBA to be in this place after a heartbreaking 16-month spell starting with the suspension of the 2020 season in March of last year. Since then, the league has pulled off the bubble experiment, crowned two champions, scooped hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, and has grown from playing in front of video boards filled with virtual fans to 65,000 people watching a final game together outside a sold room. outside the arena. Even with fears of the coronavirus still rampant, on one level it was incredibly refreshing to watch a playoff game that was not a direct reminder of the grim reality that surrounded it.

None of this guarantees that the next NBA season will feel completely removed from the pandemic. Again, this country (and the rest of the world) is not out of the woods at all. New obstacles can appear at any time. And there is absolutely no consensus on the short- or long-term effects of cramming so much basketball into such a short period of time from the start of the bubble last summer.

But with the draft in less than a week, and rookies effectively allowed to attend, as well as free agency in less than two weeks, for the first time in a very long time, it appears that the concentration within the NBA be in basketball. There are no questions at this time about protocols, multi-city bubbles, a shortened schedule, or the number of “guests” players are allowed to see on the road. Maybe all of these topics will need to be addressed again at some level before the start of the season. But after a final entirely devoted to what was happening on the court, the NBA appears to be on track to prioritize the most important part of its product: the basketball played.

More NBA Finals coverage:

• Giannis strengthens his legacy with championship victory
• Bucks title marks a satisfying end to a tough season
• Long Bucks game pays off
• What is the next step for the suns after the magic race?


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