The NBA Bubble was set up to avoid positive COVID-19 results, and for that it got nothing but positive basketball results.
The Bubble was the 2020 champion just as much as the Los Angeles Lakers, who won the title just 11 days shy of when the 2019-20 season BEGAN a year ago, way back when licking your fingertips before a free throw seemed like a good idea.
LeBron James won the NBA Finals MVP, but Commissioner Adam Silver was the Bubble MVP for pulling off the unfathomable three-month stay of great action and no COVID-19 issues.
The league spent $150-170 million on creating an isolation zone at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando. It did not go without issues (see Lou Williams’ strip-club visit “for chicken wings” while on an excused funeral absence), but the memories were more than enough to compensate.
Luka Doncic, Devin Booker and Anthony Davis buzzer-beaters. Heroics from Jamal Murray, Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell. An upended Eastern Conference. Jimmy Butler brewing Big Face Coffee and selling it for $20 per cup.
The made-for-TV event took a ratings hit in a flooded sports market, but it was a model operation, starting with a 100-page rule book and 17-foot sideline screens of streaming fan mosaics. For it all, Silver thanked NBA employees with $1,000 bonuses and five upcoming Fridays off, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“We can’t thank the NBA enough for this whole experience,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This has just been extraordinary.”
It displayed the most focus and the freshest bodies that NBA players might ever have. They weren’t distracted by outsiders or worn down by travel. Every game mattered for the 22 teams invited and it showed.
Someone tell the dreadful New York Knicks about it.