From LeBron James repping Manila to coach Doc Rivers’ speech on police brutality, here’s what happened in the NBA’s return

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo by Niklas Braun/Unsplash

The NBA is officially back. And it feels so damn good. 

The opening day of the NBA felt like Christmas Eve for many basketball fans. After almost five months of no live games, the first two days reminded everyone what’s at stake for the 2019-2020 season. That is, the eight-team race for the Playoffs, the new found rivalry between three time NBA champion LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard and the chase of the golden brass ring. Here are some of the highlights of the weekend: 

 

The king was repping Manila

On the second game of the Los Angeles Lakers (LAL) versus defending champions Toronto Raptors, LeBron James brought out the Nike LeBron XV11 Low “Titan” sneakers designed by Nike in collaboration with TITAN, a local shoe distributor. The design represents the Filipinos’ love for the game of basketball. For many people, the shoe is probably just a random pair the King wore for one game. But not for Filipinos. The LeBron XV11 TITAN lows symbolizes a decade worth of passion and dedication Titan has worked for to put the Philippines in the map of global basketball.

We need a seven game LAL versus Los Angeles Clippers series 

James and Anthony Davis versus Leonard and Paul George for seven games? That could be one of—if not the most—exciting western conference matchup in a long time. Saturday’s main event was an indication that no one really knows who will win this year’s championship—unlike in the past few years when the Golden State Warriors were already the favorites from the start. The winner of the western conference this year is going to dictate multiple legacies and we’re here to experience every single moment of it. 

The NBA is using its platform to address social injustice

Players, coaches and team staff are taking this time not just to focus on basketball but to address social injustice as well. Majority of the players have opted to kneel during the US national anthem played before tip off to call attention to the issues around racial inequality and police brutality. Superstars like James and coaches like Clippers’ Doc Rivers always make it a point to discuss issues on racism and police brutality in all their interviews. Last Saturday, Rivers’ post game interview was one of the most remarkable and powerful ones thus far.

 

“The national anthem took two minutes. There were guys who needed towels and things to get under their knees. And yet, someone kneeled on another human being’s neck for eight minutes. That’s nuts,” said the one time champion coach post game. 

 

The bubble is actually working 

The NBA has reported zero COVID-19 cases since the players and staff arrived in the bubble. This is certainly good news for the league especially since creating a bubble was a gamble for them at the start. This could also be a preview of how other sports leagues around the world will resume their seasons given that the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t subsided. Will sports events take place without an audience from now on? Will this bubble system be the path to survival for sports? 

These are questions that will only be answered in the next coming months. But at least for now, sports fans have something to be excited about again—and it feels so damn good.