Saturday, Apr 4, 2020
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Bahamians Hield, Ayton likely out of NBA playoffs

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing havoc within the sports world. Bahamians, of course, are caught up in the situation.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended the present regular season for 30 days due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. That means the possibility of teams with a Bahamian presence making it into the playoffs is not likely.

When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced his decision last week, the Sacramento Kings were three and a half games out of the eighth playoff spot; and the Phoenix Suns were two and a half games back of the Kings in the Western Conference of the NBA. Chavano “Buddy” Hield, the native Grand Bahamian, plays guard for the Kings and the New Providence-born DeAndre Ayton is the starting center for the Suns.

What will Silver eventually do after consulting with owners?

Will he declare that the regular season resumes, thus stretching games, inclusive of the playoffs, at least, all the way into July? Could it be declared that the regular season concludes, as of the suspension date? In a resumed season, the Kings and the Suns would be hard-pressed to catch the Memphis Grizzlies, who seem to win whenever they need to, in order to stay solidly in the eighth spot.

A case in point was their victory over the west leaders Los Angeles Lakers, on February 29. Hield has been experiencing a good season, although not up to the level of the previous one. Ayton is steady with double-doubles in points and rebounds.

Playoff action would present an opportunity to enhance the status of both Bahamians.

Coronavirus has interrupted the flow, and Silver has another big decision confronting him.

Last year, the NBA playoffs began on April 13, and the Toronto Raptors won game six in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors to capture the NBA title on June 13. That allowed as usual, for the teams to have a three-month break, before beginning pre-play for the ensuing season.

This time around, if Silver opts to simply resume the season, the playoffs will go on into July, leaving just about two months off, for the players. Last year, the first pre-season game took place on September 30.

Indeed, coronavirus has upturned life in the NBA and, otherwise, globally.

In The Bahamas, large gatherings are being discouraged; sporting events have been postponed and canceled; the country’s sports leaders are presently contemplating the situation surrounding the scheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The games are scheduled to begin on July 24, but thus far, the symbolic Olympic Torch Relay tour has been canceled. Yet, the government of Japan and the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) are still moving forward, with hosting of the games still the objective.

However, coronavirus holds all the cards. The malady is running its course.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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