Fans might call any place where NBA basketball returns “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” but the idea could be taken more literally given current negotiations between the league and the Walt Disney Corporation. According to a report yesterday from ESPN Senior Writer Ramona Shelburne, league officials and Disney are in conversations about restarting the NBA season in a one-site “bubble environment” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando in late July.
The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Corporation about restarting the remainder of its season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2020
Here was the full statement from NBA spokesman Mike Bass on the negotiations:
Here’s the full quote from NBA spokesman Mike Bass on negotiations with Disney. pic.twitter.com/29YSod7f9i— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2020
The idea of a “bubble” environment to restart play emerged not long after the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on nearly all sporting competitions across the globe. For close to a month now, Orlando has been rumored as a potential location for the NBA, with Las Vegas having been listed as the other top contender. It would seem that the more isolated nature of the Wide World of Sports complex would make self-quarantining the league easier than having it take place in Vegas, not to mention the absence of many of the (ahem) distractions of Sin City.
Bit by bit, the pieces are falling into place for the NBA world to return, maybe not to normal, but to something that can satisfy financial interests and fans’ appetite for the game, while protecting the health of players and staff as much as possible. The NBA polled players about a return to play, then appeared to zero on completing a 70-game regular season before moving to postseason play. Now, where all of that will take place is coming closer to a reality. Hopefully, these positive signs continue to move forward and we can be treated to some Late-July Madness.