A new poll on the Yahoo Sports website shows 59 percent of people say the remainder of the NBA season should be cancelled while only 41 percent say it should be finished in one form or another. Count Shaquille O’Neal among those saying put it to bed now and come back next season.
As for the NBA itself, there are no concrete plans to resume the season, although several ideas have been floated, including playing games in one central location – such as Las Vegas – and playing without fans in attendance.
Speaking to the New York Post this past weekend, Shaq said if he had it his way, he’d simply move on. No point in trying to finish the season, according to the big man:
“We should scrap the season. Continue to care about the safety of the players and the people, let the government figure out how they’re going to get rid of this thing forever. I hate hearing this statement, oh it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back.” (Editor’s note: Not sure if he’s speaking of the virus, or the NBA season.)
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver officially suspended basketball operations on March 11 due to the coronavirus, and there hasn’t been a lot of action in any direction since then. One thing that has been done in cities / states where stay-at-home orders have been lifted: Practice facilities were given the green light to re-open. So far, only two teams have done so. Several others plan to practice next week, though some will stay closed even though their local stay-at-home restrictions have been lifted.
As of this weekend, the Post quoted official statistics to show (as of this past weekend) more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and more than 78,000 deaths attributed to the virus.
With more than two months having gone by since a real game has been played, Shaq notes that players will be very rusty, and teams will need time to get back to playing condition. Shaq says if the season were to be resumed, it could end up leading to an unexpected or even undeserving team winning the title this season, too, something O’Neal doesn’t think is fair.
“Most of the time you could predict who is going to win a championship. Now what if we come back and a team that wasn’t supposed to win wins? There’s going to be an asterisk behind that championship. I think, personally, we should say, ‘OK, let’s just continue to worry about the safety of the people and the players, and we’ll see you guys in training camp.’”
How about the idea of playing games with no fans? Shaq says even in an “empty” arena, there are plenty of people needed behind the scenes who might be put in harm’s way:
“If we try to finish the season with no fans, you still got to bring in a camera crew, you still got to bring in the trainers, you still got to bring in other people. What if one of those guys gets it? All it takes is one.”
Shaq also said that without fans, the game itself would suffer:
“I would absolutely play horrible with no fans. Oh my God. I would be the worst center in NBA history, because I need to feed off the energy of the crowd, I need to get my adrenaline boosted.
“You know how many games I won just by going into opponents’ arenas and fans look at me crazy? Every time I missed a free throw they laughed. I would go, ‘oh you think it’s funny? Watch this.’ I would definitely need that.”
So at this point, no word on any possible resumption of the NBA season…or even how that would work, if a decision is ever made to try to get back to the game. Stay tuned to the ShaqFu Radio blog for all the latest as the news breaks.