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The NBA is coming back, but what will it be like in this new reality?

The league of superstars is back.

NBA representatives and the NBPA announced the league’s decision to resume action with a 22-team plan on Friday.

The NBA league’s owners approved the decision to finish the remainder of the 2019-2020 season at Disney World in Orlando. Then the player’s association unanimously agreed on the plan on Friday for the NBA to resume action on July 31.

The WNBA is also in the process of configuring a 22-game regular season, according to ESPN. The season would likely start on July 24 with the league playing at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Players have not yet agreed to a proposal, as talks are still ongoing.

WNBA executive director Terri Jackson said that “No decisions have been made” and that “players are considering all their options.”

The WNBA season was supposed to begin on May 16 with a 36-game regular season, but play was postponed due to the coronavirus. Player feedback will continue to be gathered in the coming days as executive personnel comes to make a decision.

In a statement addressing the NBA’s decision to continue to play, league commissioner Adam Silver said this:

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season. While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts.”

He continued on to address the current racial protests: “our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

NBPA leadership was informed of a plan that will keep 1,600 people in the Orlando bubble at all times, sources told ESPN. Approximately three family members will be allowed to join players in Orlando during the playoffs.

Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBAPA, noted that starting dates for the 2020-2021 season will likely be delayed. Changes to the league schedule will also allow players to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

In terms of safety aspects, the NBA will be conducting nightly coronavirus testing in Orlando using lighter medical swabs than the widespread version currently being used.

According to The Athletic, a positive test for a player will result in a seven-day self-isolation quarantine. League play will continue even if a player tests positive, with isolation and other precautions taken.

Players outside of the United States will return to their home market on June 15, followed by all players returning on June 21. Coronavirus testing will begin the next day, and within a week, team training camps will commence.

All teams will travel to Orlando on July 7, and the first games will begin on July 31. Teams are expected to play an abbreviated version of the regular season with eight exhibition games, with a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in both conferences.

The playoffs will be a best-of-seven series in each round, and the finals will conclude no later than October 12.

This is a large step forwards for American culture. The coronavirus shut down nearly every aspect of social connection, including athletics, theater chains, restaurants, and jobs.

Athletics are such an important part of culture because they serve as communities in themselves; regardless of time zone or location, a population can connect with one another through the mutual appreciation of the event.

Being televised, league play will also open the door for advertisements, allowing restaurants, film studios, and material products to help jump-start the economy.

The re-emergence of professional basketball is also important for racial representation and influence. The NBA carries many American-American athletes who influence not only those directly watching but also the (often minority) kids and parents who are struggling to find a place of belonging in the country today.

LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and countless other African-American players compete with pride every time they play in a televised game.

They show the African-American community that it is okay to speak out about larger issues such as racial injustice and issues outside of the realm of their expertise.

NBA superstars aren’t just helping the cause by releasing statements and twitter phrases; they give a sense and representation every time that the cameras broadcast them to the world.

It is a joy to hear the plan for the NBA to resume action, and America looks forward to tuning in on July 31 when play returns in Orlando.