The bubble has popped. The NBA season is over.
A brief reminder, there were no positive cases when the NBA season continued in the bubble.
In the offseason, the NBA plays an unprecedented role in this year’s vote in the 2020 election.
In the bubble, Covid-19 did not stop play; instead, social and racial unjust did. In late August, Police officers shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old African American man who was shot seven times in the back while leaning in his SUV before being tasered and battling with the officers.
In the bubble, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their August 26 first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced that along with the Bucks’ decision to refuse to play, all NBA games for the day were postponed. This led to other boycotts from other American sports leagues, including the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS).
When the NBA and NBPA agreed to resume the postseason after the Milwaukee Bucks led the league-wide protest to stop play in the wake of the Blake shooting, it came with several new social justice initiatives in place. The league agreed to form a coalition of players, coaches, and governors to work on social justice programs, and to use advertising spots throughout the postseason to promote civic engagement. One that stands out will be converting NBA arenas into voting sites for the 2020 presidential election.
Twenty stadiums and arenas around the country turned into polling places. The staples center home to the Los Angeles Lakers is one of them.
“To know that the STAPLES center is going to be a polling site for voting is unbelievable and is something that we need.” Lakers small forward LeBron James said.
James is also part of “More Than A Vote.” A group of Black athletes and artists committed to activating young voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. They include luminaries like Offset and Odell Beckham Jr. — people who young gravitate to and respect. That’s why it comes as no surprise that their efforts are ramping up now, as we’re only a few weeks away from Election Day.
The Forum, located in Inglewood, a choice for music greats the Los Angeles Clippers, helped convert it into one of Los Angeles’ largest polling sites.
The Clippers added they are all about creating a great voting experience from the voting lines to the parking, even providing hand sanitizer. The county is responsible for voting, providing 126 voting machines to The Forum.
The Forum, which is owned privately after Steve Ballmer purchased it from Knicks owner James Dolan in May, will be available for voters from Oct. 24-Nov. 3 to either drop off mail-in ballots or vote in person, the Clippers announced.
The Miami Heat, who play in a publicly-owned arena, were denied by their local officials. The Miami Heat released a statement expressing their anger at that outcome.
“We were informed that our Arena would not be designated a polling place, in favor of the Frost Science Museum. This decision was made and delivered without further explanation. NBA arenas all over the country, including just up the road in Orlando, are getting approved as polling sites with little to no pushback. We were under the impression that approval was imminent,” part of the statement said.
“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement. The Arena is clearly a better site, with more visibility, more space, and more parking. But to the extent that forces involved in making this decision think this will quiet our voice on the critical importance of voting, they should know that we will not be deterred. The Miami HEAT stands with the NBA and NBPA in their efforts surrounding voting. We will continue to make our voices heard and encourage HEAT fans everywhere to vote.”
The Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets and located in a critical battleground state of North Carolina, will be one of the polling locations. They even added a cool slogan, “swarm the polls.” A hive of activity was backed by owner NBA legend Michael Jordan and Hornets sports and entertainment president Fred Whitfield.
“We are Charlotte’s team we feel like we have an obligation to reach out throughout every community of Charlotte and do everything we can to make this an easy process for everyone,” Whitfield said to NBC news.
On July 22, the Hornets announced that the Spectrum Center would be open for early voting from Oct. 15-31.
Hornets also have the third overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft; however, community involvement involving the election is the priority at the moment.
The Phoenix Suns announced that Veterans Memorial Coliseum would be used as a voting center and early voting ballot drop-off location for the November 3 election.
“This is a time of change,” Phoenix Suns small forward Cameron Johnson said. “A critical junction in the history of our country, the more people we can get out and vote, the better of we will be.”
The venues will help answer the call and get votes out in large numbers.