The NBA was able to successfully organize a “bubble” on the Walt Disney World Resort campus in Orlando to finish off the 2019-20 season. Many wondered beforehand if it would work, but it did, with no positive cases of COVID-19 through the NBA’s nearly three-month stay. No fans were allowed and only one fanbase ended up thrilled with the results of everything, as Lakers fans were only able to celebrate the franchise’s 17th championship from home.
Earlier today, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that all teams were sent protocols on how they’d be able to have fans at their games for the 2020-21 season. The protocols were strict (seen below), with the team’s ability to have fans depending on the state of COVID-19 in their respective markets.
The Los Angeles area, and California as a whole, has always had high numbers in regards to COVID-19 rates, which makes the Lakers’ recent announcement not surprising. There will be no fans in the Staples Center for Lakers games until further notice (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll):
The Lakers just announced that they won't be having fans at home games until further notice pic.twitter.com/MHOQTT2xcG
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 12, 2020
For arena suites at 25% capacity or less, testing would not be required for fans. Teams would be permitted for 50% if all fans were tested or if local county's positivity rate is three percent or below and seven-day average of new cases per 100K residents is 10 or fewer. https://t.co/Rr0YMpebdb
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 11, 2020
The team leaves the door open for possible fans later in the season, but either way, you can almost assuredly rule out the Staples Center being anywhere near 50% capacity this season, let alone a full house for any raucous crowds. Jeanie Buss and the rest of the organization will probably continue to work with Governor Gavin Newsom and the rest of the California government in regards to finding out when it would be practically safe to have fans in the stadium. Again, don’t expect that anytime soon as COVID-19 rates are currently increasing around the country with many health experts predicting a dreary winter in regards to the virus.
The team also announced that the 2020-21 schedule will be announced at a later date, but we do know the NBA season as a whole will start December 22nd. Expect the Lakers, as the reigning champions, to have a game on opening night.