Who would have guessed it would come to this? The NBA season suspended. Indefinitely. Possibly for the rest of the current schedule.
The decision was made after team owners convened and the commissioner determined it was the best direction to go in. Considering recent events, it shouldn't be all that surprising. But the NBA has never stopped for any reason. Not even for a lockout or players strike, which have become all too familiar with fans of the NHL and MLB respectively.
Athletes' health is always their top priority. As a professional sports league, it's the NBA's responsibility to make sure its players are able to compete in a safe and secure environment. Both sides have become well aware of what happened to Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley. That considered, they have become greatly concerned that whatever is causing this devastating effect has spread beyond New York and Charlotte.
The first sign that the league was heading for real trouble was when the Lakers had to be persuaded by Del Harris to step onto the court for a game in their own arena. They were mainly worried that the ailment that has affected these five players somehow made its way into their locker room. No matter that the incidents took place on the East Coast. They only obliged when Harris told them to "dress in the hallway".
Soon after, the Forum was isolated for inspection of potential bacteria and/or other germs. No other arena in the league has been immune from it. Everywhere from the newly opened United Center in Chicago to the soon-to-be-torn-down Boston Garden has undergone these inspections. Our tax dollars hard at work because everyone is so concerned about what has happened or what could happen.
The NBA has been through adversity before: from low-scoring games in the pre-shot clock era (19-18 anyone?) to competing with the ABA in its heyday to player drug problems to overall dwindling public interest. All of those storms have been weathered. Nothing like this however has happened here or anywhere. While the problem itself is not entirely clear, what is clear is that this could leave a devastating effect on the league if it isn't resolved quickly.
No one wants to enter an area that could leave a crippling effect on them. That's the issue right now. While the NBA is doing its best to keep everything in control, it better hope this disappears. If no one can be assured safety in playing professional basketball, that will scare potential future players in college and high school away and then what'll happen?
Bird, Magic and Michael are no longer on the court. Presently, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O'Neal are included among the core group of stars that make the NBA work. Young stars like Grant Hill and Jason Kidd will be the ones to carry it someday, assuming they want to continue playing in spite of what's happened, but what's in the store for the league's future beyond them?
There's a lot to take into consideration here and people will be worried that someone they know who is considering a pro basketball career is in jeopardy of having their skills diminished or their health sucked from them. It's natural to act worrisome over a fellow human being. Those who might be scared off over this ordeal could include someone who might have otherwise had a Hall of Fame career. Make it a trend and the NBA won't be worth watching as much or at all anymore.
The NBA will be back, maybe soon, but we have to hope that this scare doesn't affect the quality of players and overall play the league will generate from here on out. If we're lucky, this will just be a speed bump over the course of NBA history. If it's not, well, let's not even think about that right now. In the meantime, watch your back when stepping onto a basketball court for a pickup game.