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The NBA will have its first revamped games of the 2019-2020 season on Thursday evening, after the global coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the world of professional sports.
This evening, the Utah Jazz will face off against the New Orleans Pelicans. Later, the two teams from Los Angeles, the Clippers and the Lakers, will play the second and final game of the night.
Players have been based at Walt Disney World Resort just outside of Orlando, Fla., since early July under strict health and safety measures.
The NBA is experimenting with keeping players in the so-called “bubble” to try to keep the coronavirus from seeping into its ranks.
Other major league sports, including the NHL and MLB, have already started or are preparing to start seasons that have been halted or delayed by the virus.
This has not been without its complications, however. In baseball, at least more than 80 players and two dozen staffers have tested positive for the illness. On the Miami Marlins alone, at least 17 players and two coaches have been confirmed positive for the virus.
In the NBA, only 22 of the league’s 30 teams will play in the truncated season, which will include eight more regular season games for each team.
Despite the strictness of the NBA lockdown, many players are taking it in stride, documenting their experiences of living in isolation with one another.
“It’s an amazing thing, and it’s like history. This has never been done before. This is something that probably won’t ever be done again unless COVID is still around. So this is history. And to be a part of it is just a blessing,” Lakers center JaVale McGee said in an interview with NPR.