The coronavirus pandemic has cast a large shadow over the 2019-2020 NBA season. The remainder of the year is likely at the mercy of the illness, which is why Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri said it is imperative the league “play by the rules” and follow the advice of public health officials (via Eric Koreen of The Athletic):
“I’m hoping (the season can be salvaged). That’s all of our hope. We love our game and we love what we do,” Ujiri said. “Honestly, for now, I think (the way) we salvage the NBA season is by abiding by the rules and doing everything that we have to do as people, as a community, everything we possibly can. This is not about the NBA, NBA players, NBA fans. It’s about the whole world. This is something that hit globally. This is not an earthquake that hit in only one part of the world or a disease that is only in another part of the world or a tsunami — pardon me for mentioning all of these things. But this is affecting the whole world. We can want to plan the NBA all we want, and (want) it to come back all we want. Because it affects the whole world, something is going to stall that one way or the other, if we have not played by the rules.”
It would be a shame for the Raptors to lose out on an opportunity to defend their title.
Toronto had been one of the feel-good stories of the year, winning 46 of their first 64 games in spite of the loss of Kawhi Leonard.
The Raptors had the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, and their balance and consistency likely would have made them among the toughest competitors for the Milwaukee Bucks.
However, Ujiri hit it right on the button. The NBA will not return if society cannot work together to curb the spread, and that cannot be done without taking precautions.