NBA fans near and far have every reason to celebrate, because it’s been announced the league will return, with a tentative July 31 start date, after being suspended in March because of COVID-19.
A new format for the league was approved by the NBA Board of Governors on June 4. It will consist of 22 teams coming back, 13 from the Western Conference and nine from the Eastern Conference.
All of the teams reportedly will play eight regular-season games before the playoffs begin. A playoff spot will then be given to the seven teams from each conference with the best overall records. The overall records will be composed of games played before the suspension and the eight seeding games.
The eighth seed from each conference will be determined by a play-in series of games if the Nos. 8 and 9 teams are within four games of each other in the standings at the end of the seeding games.
“The eighth seed [team] could potentially come down to a play-in tournament,” it says on the NBA’s website.
All of the games would be played at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, where practices will be held and the players will live, assuming the arrangement is approved by the Walt Disney Company.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the NBA says it will test everyone at the resort regularly while working with infectious disease specialists and public health experts.
There was also a new date set for the NBA draft, Aug. 25. But that date may change if the NBA doesn’t restart on July 31 as planned.
“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a statement. “While the coronavirus pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts.”
One of the NBA players who reacted to the restart of the season is Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, a team that isn’t among the 22 that would be invited to play this season. But he still seemed excited about the league returning.
“I’m more motivated than ever,” he tweeted on Thursday.
The NBA was suspended on March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. He’s since recovered and made an apology for taking the virus lightly when it first began to spread in the United States.