Adam Silver was constantly on his phone at the end of December. At the time, more than 100 players were sidelined by issues related to the virus, along with some head coaches, assistant coaches, referees and team staff in the NBA.
The NHL had just stopped its season. The NBA commissioner wondered whether his league would follow suit.
“I was very worried,” Silver said. “And we had many discussions with our governors about whether we were doing the right thing.”
With the help of dozens of newly signed players, some of whom may already be forgotten, the NBA played.
It could be argued that this season’s untold MVPs were more than 100 players signed to short-term hardship contracts to be filled, when the Omicron edition in December and January and other virus issues decimated nearly every team. went.
Those fill-ins kept the season from derailing. And they’re actually the NBA Finals matchup between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors being played in exactly the same way the schedule was being put together last summer.
“I think everyone understood that if we had to stop the season, it would also have a huge potential economic impact on the league or force players and the league to go into the summer, which is not ideal,” Silver told the Associated Press. “So, without those players, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Around the league, 605 players – a record – appeared in at least one game during the regular season, a 12% increase from the previous season. There were 633 players who were known to be under contract at some point, a 15% increase from the previous season’s figure.
And while the edition was at its worst, the league was at its busiest: Over a 10-day period at the end of December, 93 different 10-day contracts were signed.
“I’ve been part of the weirdest season ever,” 19-year-old NBA veteran LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers said during the season. “I want to talk about the COVID protocol, not just the injuries. You guys have to go out for false positives. You have let people out for real reasons. … we have a little bit of everything.”
Considering how many players were needed for some perspective, over the five-season period – from 1982–83 to 1986–87 – the Celtics used a total of 27 players.
This season, he used 28.
And that doesn’t count the four Celtics who were signed and never got in a game. The Celtics’ total of 32 players under contract — some very briefly — at some point this season were the most in the NBA, one more than Portland and two more than Indiana, Milwaukee and New Orleans.
“Obviously playing basketball during an unprecedented time in the last two years has been tough for individuals, families, etc.,” said Boston guard Jaylen Brown. “But I think the NBA and the players’ union have done their best to keep things going and to accommodate everything as much as possible. There have been ups and downs. There are questions like that, things like that.” Which doesn’t make sense. But I still give credit where credit is due.”
The NBA had to postpone a total of 11 games that were originally scheduled for mid- to late December, and those rescheduling forced eight other games to be moved to prevent teams from having three games in extreme adversity. to be prevented from playing. three nights.
Otherwise the games were played as usual. It just wasn’t normal.
“A global pandemic was not something you’d expect a season to be part of,” Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said. “But it was, and it is, and it kept people finding and working on some solutions.”
Former NBA All-Stars such as Joe Johnson – who made his only shot attempt in his one-game appearance with the Celtics – and Isaiah Thomas were recalled to the league to help amid the shortage. The Warriors’ quindry Weatherpoon got to start their season on Christmas Day.
“Real,” he said.
Washington signed center Jaime Ichenic and he played three impromptu minutes; No numbers, no figures of any kind. But he made history, becoming the first Colombian to appear in an NBA game.
“If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me up,” said Echenik.
It’s players like Ichenic who kept the season going. The schedule the league put in place nearly a year ago – long before Omicron, anyone knew what the season would bring and how the virus would go – on Monday as a travel day ahead of Games 2 and 3 for NBA Finals teams was listed.
The Celtics and Warriors are traveling on Monday – as scheduled.
The NBA is about to make it through a season as planned, thanks to a few former All-Stars and more than a few players who weren’t household names.
“I know Chris Paul, for example, spoke at one of our meetings to say how grateful we are to these players,” Silver told the Associated Press. “And he was also reminding his other NBA players, ‘Don’t forget to thank those players.’ We were relying on a formidable group of outside consultants made up of top doctors and scientists who were predicting that if we could push it hard for a few weeks, we would be able to make it.
“But without the service, mainly from those G League players, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
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