Reports by various sports writers suggest that like every Super Bowl MVP since Phil Simms, the NBA may be going to Disney World. Nothing is firm yet, even the return-to-play itself, but optimism continues to grow about fan-less games played in a “bubble.”
Here’s a summary of the tweeted reports...
Heard there’s been optimism lately that season will resume in Orlando. https://t.co/pO4xPtc1tw— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 19, 2020
The NBA has Orlando/Disney World as a clear frontrunner for return-to-play site for resuming 2019-20 season, sources tell me and @sam_amick. Orlando has gained significant seriousness among other cites such as Las Vegas.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2020
Sources from Walt Disney World tell me: "We are confident we'll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 20, 2020
I'm told from an NBA source: "Finishing the season at Disney isn't a done deal. But the fact that it is a private property and controlling access can be done far easier than other proposed sites is something we consider to be heavily in Disney's favor. That's very important."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 20, 2020
Smith is a former Disney employee who first broached the idea more than a month ago at a time when pundits were suggesting that Las Vegas was the most likely “bubble” venue.
As Smith wrote back then, the WDW property has the accommodations...
Disney has an abundance of hotel rooms on their 39 square-mile property near Orlando, Florida. Two hotels would work particularly well for this type of venture: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort. While neither are necessarily the high-end hotels that NBA players are used to staying in, they come with a key perk: Both are located just down the road from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
EWWS would be the hub for all basketball activity. It would make sense to keep the NBA personnel as contained as possible. The Art of Animation Resort has nearly 2,000 hotel rooms; Pop Century Resort has nearly 2,900 rooms. That’s almost 4,900 rooms in two resorts that are connected to each other. Both resorts also feature food and beverage locations that could easily be tweaked to offer meals for all NBA personnel. And both resorts feature swimming pools for relaxation during downtime.
And enough courts —12 in all— at the Wide World of Sports complex...
The HP Field House is already set up to host high-level basketball, hosting the AdvoCare Invitational college basketball tournament every November. Not only is the court ready to host NBA games, the broadcast setup is already in place.
In addition to the HP Field House, EWWS is home to the Visa Center. The Visa Center can be set up to house as many as six full-sized basketball courts, or configured stadium-style with one primary court. Like the HP Field House, the Visa Center is also broadcast-ready.
EWWS also has The Arena, which was primarily built to house national championships for cheer and dance, but can easily be configured for basketball. There is space to house six-plus basketball courts, and like the HP Field House and Visa Center, The Arena is also broadcast-ready.
EWWS also has more than ample space to set up temporary workout and weight rooms and treatment facilities. There is enough space to set up a schedule for all 30 teams to have their time in the facilities.
While the resort is currently in a “phased reopening,” Disney can control access to the needed facilities, unlike Las Vegas or Atlantic City. As Smith also pointed out, Central Florida hasn’t been hit by the full force of the coronavirus, which also works in its favor. Walt Disney World does not have an onsite medical facility, however. Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the NBA will likely need 50,000 test kits, enough for daily tests of the players, coaches and essential staff.
At least one Net player endorsed the the Disney idea.
“It’s the Mickey Mouse clubhouse, come inside it’s fun inside” https://t.co/MGO7IpUgpa— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) May 20, 2020
Under the current plan, teams are beginning to reopen their training facilities to players but tight restrictions remain in place. Workouts are limited to 45 minutes, players and coaches must maintain 12 feet of distance, and only one player and one coach are allowed on the court. The head coach is not allowed on the premises for the workouts and no scrimmages are permitted.
As of Wednesday, 18 teams have opened up their training facilities but neither the Nets nor the Knicks are among them. Brooklyn is the epicenter of the pandemic and HSS Training Center in Sunset Park is across the street from where the city has parked its mobile morgues, refrigerated trucks used to handle a surge of bodies from the city’s hospitals.
From there, teams would eventually transition to full practices at teams’ training facilities before the teams move to the “bubble” venue. Next step, says Woj, are guidelines on the return of players who returned home.
Reporting with @ZachLowe_NBA: NBA teams are expecting the league office will issue guidelines around June 1 that will allow franchises to start recalling players who’ve left their markets to return as a first step toward a formal ramp-up for the season’s resumption.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2020
In the Nets case, at least three players left Brooklyn at the height of the pandemic: Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan who traveled to southern California and Spencer Dinwiddie who has been working out in San Antonio.
Still unsettled is how many games would be played, whether the league would resume regular season play, with 30 teams, or jump right to the playoffs and 16 teams. Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta told CNBC Tuesday that he expects the NBA will play some regular season games.
- Sources: NBA in serious talks to restart season in Orlando, Disney World the frontrunner - Sam Amick & Shams Charania - The Athletic NBA
- Sources: NBA teams expecting guidelines around June 1 for players’ return - Adrian Wojnarowski & Zach Lowe - ESPN
- NBA season restart plan is gaining serious momentum - Marc Berman - New York Post
- Disney World is front-runner to host games in one location if NBA returns, report says - Steve Popper - Newsday