The NBA is still keeping the door open for resuming play this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, though still doesn’t have any set plans to do so.
If Shaquille O’Neal had his way, though, he’d simply move on.
In his eyes, there’s no point in trying to finish the season.
“We should scrap the season,” the Hall of Famer and NBA analyst said on Friday, via the New York Post. “Continue to care about the safety of the players and the people, let the government figure out how they’re going to get rid of this thing forever. I hate hearing this statement, oh it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back.”
The NBA suspended operations on March 11 due to the coronavirus, and has been in a holding pattern ever since. It allowed teams in markets where stay-at-home orders have been lifted to open up their practice facilities again on Friday, but only two teams did so. Several others plan to next week, though some will stay closed even though their local stay-at-home restrictions have been lifted.
There were more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Post, and more than 78,000 deaths attributed to the virus.
It’s now been nearly two months since live basketball took place. Players are rusty, and teams will look totally different should the season resume. It could end up leading to an unexpected or even undeserving team winning the title this season, too, something O’Neal doesn’t think is fair.
“Most of the time you could predict who is going to win a championship. Now what if we come back and a team that wasn’t supposed to win wins? There’s going to be an asterisk behind that championship,” O’Neal said, via the New York Post. “I think, personally, we should say, ‘OK, let’s just continue to worry about the safety of the people and the players, and we’ll see you guys in training camp.’”
What about games with no fans?
One of the ideas to resume play involves holding games with no fans and limited personnel present — whether the games are played in a singular location or not.
While that would prohibit any fans from being at risk, O’Neal pointed out that there would still be lots of other people in the arena.
“If we try to finish the season with no fans, you still got to bring in a camera crew, you still got to bring in the trainers, you still got to bring in other people,” O’Neal said, via the New York Post. “What if one of those guys gets it? All it takes is one.”
And, he said, trying to play a game in an empty area would be extremely difficult.
“I would absolutely play horrible with no fans,” O’Neal said, via the New York Post. “Oh my God. I would be the worst center in NBA history, because I need to feed off the energy of the crowd, I need to get my adrenaline boosted.
“You know how many games I won just by going into opponents’ arenas and fans look at me crazy? Every time I missed a free throw they laughed. I would go, ‘oh you think it’s funny? Watch this.’ I would definitely need that.”
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