About 200 people were in attendance, including both teams, game operations personnel, league representatives, three human camera operators to complement an array of robotic cameras and the small contingent of reporters permitted to watch.
Getting the world’s greatest basketball players out on the court — even in a pointless scrimmage — had given everyone happiness. We may hold a discussion on whether sports can come back right now, there is a strong argument we shouldn’t play football. The truth is, though, the claim won money and the NBA is back. How it came back, despite any bad playing, did not make watching it any less enjoyable.
Despite the no-fan reality, the broadcasts were about as good as they could have made. It was better than expected, but the whole thing had completely a casual Summer League game feel, particularly with games rolling out through the afternoon.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard became the first player on the court Wednesday afternoon, warming up for the NBA’s first jump ball in over four months — without waiting for the public address announcer to start announcing the starting lineups.
It marked the first time two NBA players played the same court since the sudden March 11 season suspension after Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus just before a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Top 3 Greatest Players of All-Time:
1. July 22nd scrimmage Bol Bol
2. LeBron James
3. Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/j50tDqOgMN
— JustAnotherNBAFan™ (@AnotherNBAFan) July 22, 2020
Amid months of meetings, planning, and discussion about the viability of resuming and maintaining an indoor contact sport amid a pandemic, the league made what it believes to be a big phase toward its revival by staging four scrimmages, 15 days amid players started arriving at the Walt Disney World campus.
Twenty-two teams were invited to stay, train and play in a so-called bubble of heavily limited access at Disney World near Orlando, Florida, to seek and finish a season some previously believed would not be preserved inside the league. Before the New Orleans Pelicans face the Jazz on July 30th, each team must take part in three of these scrimmages to begin an 88-game schedule heading into the playoffs.
No national anthem was played before Wednesday’s scrimmage, but Black Lives Matter is a feature at all three game sites, emblazoned on the court in large lettering just in front of the scorer’s table.
— NBA (@NBA) July 23, 2020
At noon the Clippers landed for the 3 p.m. Tipff to get some extra shooting and hold on until the start of the session. The Surprises remained behind them for around an hour, opting to perform a staff walk-through at their office hotel in the morning first. Good coach Steve Clifford claimed that the circumstances were “not that different from a normal road game.”
Players were instructed by the league to be “clean and neat in appearance” upon arriving at the arena, with postgame showers taking place back at team hotels.
In this small-ball era, Malone would likely never take “tall ball” to such an extreme in a game that counted, but players did find some normalcy amid all of Wednesday’s novelty.
“It feels like the season again,” Washington guard Ish Smith said. “I think guys are now getting into a flow and knowing this is the real thing.”