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The NBA Bubble’s Opening Night was both a success and hopefully a blueprint

The NBA returned last night and hopefully we can learn from the practices the league has taken.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

The return of the NBA heralds a possible new chapter in the COVID-19 saga. If the NBA bubble works, then it will be due to medical practices that ABSOLUTELY CAN BE REPLICATED EVERYWHERE ELSE. We CAN have adequate testing. We CAN isolate and quarantine effectively. We CAN stamp out the virus and make things safe again. It is possible to defeat coronavirus.

The NBA bubble is an experiment, albeit one we’ve done before. All throughout history there are clear examples of people combating outbreaks in a similar fashion. You try to identify those who are sick, you try to isolate, and you wear masks to slow the virus. This is all stuff we already knew, in fact we’ve known all these things for quite some time. None of the methods we are using to combat the virus (well, that some countries are using to combat the virus) would look all that strange to someone from the 1920s. These are tried and true practices.

So, if the NBA bubble works, then it will be a good example, and we should try to emulate that example. It’ll be the tangible “American Made” proof that some are still looking for.

It also helps that the basketball itself was not bad at all.

In the first game of the, uh, 2020 season, Utah Jazz “at” the New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram (23 points, but only 2 for 8 from three) didn’t have his outside shot, but he went 7 for 8 from the line, and had the most free throw attempts in the game for either team. Good sign! Lonzo’s shot was, uh, still quarantined, I guess: 2 for 13 from the floor, 0 for 2 from the line. But don’t overlook the seven dimes and two steals, and the Pelicans only lost by two. If Zo’s shot had fallen even a teeny tiny bit nicer, maybe the Pelicans win that game.

Meanwhile the Jazz, looked much better than I thought they would. They had three 20+ point scorers (Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Jordan Clarkson), and the team sank their shots when they got to the line (24 of 28 free throws as a team). That’s good, because their outside shot was nowhere to be found. The free throws and the blocks were really the difference makers in the game.

Things only got better with the night game as the two Western favorites battled it out for Los Angeles supremacy.

The fact that LeBron was able to get his own missed shot back to tie the game at the end should be extremely troubling to Clippers Nation. I mean, I know: it’s LeBron, and this is just the sort of thing he does. On the other hand, if you look at that play, ALL FIVE CLIPPERS WERE IN THE PAINT. LBJ got his own rebound and made a shot while surrounded by the entire Clippers team. That’s not great if you’re the Clips.

What’s also concerning for the Clips: Anthony Davis. Davis had a great night from the line (something the Lakers need to be able to do), while LeBron had a 16-11-7 line on the night. He continues to control every facet of the game. I find it completely unsurprising that LeBron took the lead to close the game. AD had a great game against the Clippers and LBJ still took the last shot. Very telling.

All in all, it was a night of NBA action, which used to be taken for granted, but now feels precious. I feel guilty accepting this comfort food of a distraction, but I slept better last night than I have in awhile. Thank you, basketball. I hope the NBA bubble continues to go well, and we can continue to mobilize for change, so that we can perhaps earn a bit of this comfort, rather than just enjoy it.

Stay safe and healthy out there. We can get through this. For whatever it’s worth, I believe in us. Be brave.