The NBA will start the 2020-2021 season at the end of next month. And as everyone anticipates its return, here’s what you need to know.
NBA basketball is on the horizon!
On Wednesday afternoon, the league posted several key dates on its Instagram page as they gear for the start of the 2020-2021 season. Some of those important dates are:
- The 2020 NBA Draft will be on November 18th
- Teams can begin negotiating with free-agents beginning at 6:00 PM ET on November 20th
- Free-agents can officially sign contracts beginning at 12:01 ET on November 22nd
- The 2020-2021 NBA season will begin December 22nd
Along with the mentioned dates, fans should know that the upcoming season will be a shortened one. The NBA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously on a 72-game season. This decision was agreed upon by the NBA and its Players’ Association.
What about the fans?
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught the world anything, it is how important fans are to the product. The fan cutouts, piping in crowd noise, and digital displays of fans (see WWE) do not replace live fan participation.
Point blank. Period.
Now let’s get to the million dollar question. And we all know what that is.
Will the NBA allow fans to return to the arenas this season?
Well, the wait is over as there is now an answer to that question.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams on Wednesday afternoon, listing the proper protocols for fans to return to games.
For the markets that are eligible to have fans in attendance, some essential things to know are:
- For anyone within 30 feet of the court, they must have a negative coronavirus test registered two days before the game. A rapid test on game day will suffice as well.
- Fans above the age of two will have to wear masks, exercise social distancing, and perform symptom surveys. Teams have the option to install plexiglass behind team benches.
- There cannot be food or beverages within 30 feet of the court.
- Coronavirus testing will not be a requirement for arena suites that operate at 25% capacity or less. Teams would be allowed to have 50% capacity if all fans have a negative coronavirus test, but there’s a catch. The catch is that the local county’s coronavirus positivity rate is three percent or below and if the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents is ten or less.
We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.