Basketball

'Bubble-wrapped' NBA ready for restart

Four months after Covid-19 sent basketball into a shutdown, the NBA takes a leap into the unknown tomorrow morning (Singapore time) as the league bids to resurrect its season at Disney World in Florida.

The Utah Jazz launch the reboot against the New Orleans Pelicans, before LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard face off in the Los Angeles Derby between the Lakers and the Clippers.

To mitigate the risks of the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed about 150,000 lives in the United States, the NBA is basing 22 teams within a controlled "bubble" inside Disney World's campus in Orlando.

Games are played at three venues, with no fans in attendance and only a smattering of journalists at each game.

Just over 350 players will be housed at three hotels, with restricted access to each location and visits from outsiders forbidden until the play-offs, which start on Aug 17.

Players had to be isolated in their hotel rooms for 48 hours until they had tested negative for Covid-19 twice.

While multi-millionaire stars such as the Lakers' James have joked that entering the bubble felt like starting a jail term, preparations for the restart have gone relatively smoothly.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, who grew up in poverty in Greece as the son of Nigerian immigrants, smiles at the suggestion that they are facing hardship in confinement.

"It doesn't matter where you are in life, there's always something to complain, there's always a problem and an issue," Antetokounmpo said.

His viewpoint was echoed by Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams, who said: "Let's be clear, mate. This is not Syria. We're living in a bloody resort." - AFP

Basketball