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What changes enforced inside the bubble would you like to see stick for 2021 and even beyond?
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Steve Aschburner: Reduction of travel. As much as I loved seeing coaches in sweat suits, as curious as I am about why the shooting background of the bubble gyms were preferable to arena crowds for many players, I’d like to see some lessening of the travel grind when play resumes. That might mean keeping a road team in the same city for a pair of games (if it doesn’t make ticket-selling more difficult). At the very last, making sure to exploit two-team markets in L.A. and New York, hitting both the Lakers/Clippers and Knicks/Nets on one visit. Nearby markets too (which often occurs) — Chicago and Milwaukee, Orlando and Miami, Sacramento and Golden State. We get consecutive games in one site in the playoffs, so it’s worth trying — to reduce flights and odd sleeping hours — as much as the schedule will allow.
Shaun Powell: I like 10-minute quarters for exhibition games, the option for coaches to dress down, the names below the numbers on the backs of jerseys and the ample space along the baselines and sidelines. Of course, once normalcy returns, the teams will be too anxious to get $$ from courtside fans, so there’s no chance of that latter request happening.
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John Schuhmann: The dress code for coaches and staff. This is sports! Polos and khakis are more suitable than suits and ties. I also think that quality of the offenses should have the league continuing its effort to reduce travel during the season. Alas, if there’s not a reduction in the number of games, I’m not sure how that happens beyond longer stays in New York and L.A.
Sekou Smith: Nothing on the court. The competition between the lines in the bubble was every bit as energized as anything we’ve seen in home arenas. Another collective tip of the cap to the competitive nature of the teams and players involved is necessary. That said, I imagine that the powers that be noticed that the absence of the normal travel back and forth during a series proved extremely beneficial on game nights. There is substantial wear and tear involved in a long regular season followed by a rigorous postseason. Any opportunity to mitigate some of that wear and tear must to be top of mind as the parties negotiate the road ahead. The social distancing on the benches seems like it has to be a permanent change in the post-Covid-19 world. And finally, the relaxed dress code for coaches and players who are not in uniform was a welcome sight. It made for a much more comfortable feel inside the arenas for whatever reason.
Michael C. Wright: Two small changes — virtual fans and the relaxed dress code for coaches — should stick beyond this season, if possible. Obviously, the NBA wants to be playing games this upcoming season in front of packed houses. But if it can’t initially, let’s bring back the virtual fans, and perhaps the league could do more outreach in terms of informing the fans how they can actually get into these virtual seats. Even if arenas are full next season, maybe there’s some type of “virtual section” that could be pulled off. Maybe shots of virtual fans can run across the ribbon boards at arenas that often display advertising. Inside the bubble, the virtual fans were a nice touch. And if you’re a Lakers fan in New York that can’t get to the games at the Staples Center, what better way to represent than to be a virtual fan? As for the dress code for coaches, I’m not advocating for it to be relaxed for all games permanently. Maybe the coaches should be required to wear suits only for nationally televised games and the postseason.