The NBA is currently in the midst of the Conference Finals following a long delay due to COVID-19. The games should have ended in mid-June but are still going deep into September, bringing up questions about the upcoming season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has responded and provided his "best guess" about the 2021-22 season start.
Speaking with CNN's Bob Costas, Silver said that the next slate of NBA games will not begin until at least January. He had previously wanted to target a Dec. 25 start date as an ideal scenario but that is becoming increasingly unlikely. Christmas is one of the two signature regular-season days for the NBA. The second is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Jan. 18, 2021.
Silver is currently operating with a goal of playing an 82-game season in front of fans at NBA arenas. However, there are still several hurdles to overcome in order to make the season take place. The ongoing pandemic presents one issue while the time between the NBA Finals and the start of the next season creates another.
The NBA Commissioner originally wanted to start the season on Dec. 1, but he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols before the Draft Lottery in late August that the league pushed back the start date. The primary reason for this decision was to potentially play games in front of fans. Silver said that there are no plans to reinstate the quarantine campus in Orlando.
"I'd say Dec. 1, now that we're working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me," Silver said. "I think our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas. ... So my sense is, in working with the players' association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that's what we would be targeting."
ESPN reported in August that the NBA is working with research institutions and pharmaceutical companies on trials and monitoring developments in the pandemic. The league has hopes of a vaccine but has also worked with several companies on fast-response tests that could lead to fans in the arenas once again. "We're watching closely the development of antivirals," Silver said. "There's been some really positive reports about vaccines lately."
Silver doesn't know if fans will ultimately attend games during the 2021-22 season, nor does he have an exact start date. However, he remains focused on finding a way for fans to safely attend NBA games and cheer on their favorite teams. Although the league first has to finish the playoffs.