By Natalie Luna
After 95 days inside the NBA’s Walt Disney World pandemic bubble, the Los Angeles Lakers brought the championship title back home, claiming their 17th championship title. The 2020 NBA season came to a close after the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6. Lebron James, the Laker’s 2020 Most Valuable Player of the Finals, excelled with a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and began the festivities during the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ blowout.
Almost immediately after the buzzer, there was champagne and confetti everywhere in the empty arena in Orlando, Florida.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver handed the Larry O’Brien trophy to Lakers owner and president, Jeanie Buss, the first ever female owner to win a championship.
“We found a way to play through a pandemic, keep everyone safe, and put a spotlight on these critically important [social justice] issues. And for that, every team deserves to be celebrated,” Silver said to the press prior to the trophy being awarded.
The NBA was the first American professional sports league to shut down at the beginning of the pandemic. No one was sure about when the season would resume due to the uncertainty of the virus in March, or whether the season would even continue. Even as the 22 teams moved to Disney World for the July restart, nobody knew if they would finish.
Not only was the NBA bubble experiment extremely successful, it also created an example for a safe and healthy environment that controlled the spread of the virus through daily testing, social distancing, mask wearing, and contact tracing. Overall, this was a public health achievement just as much as it was a profitable relief.
As the NFL and MLB struggled to contain the outbreaks of the virus, the NBA reported zero cases on its campus throughout the pandemic bubble.
Although the bubble was a success, players were not able to completely outrun the pandemic. To prevent COVID from spreading, those in the bubble had to isolate from their loved ones and play in an empty arena.
Regardless, the Lakers fought through these hardships in Florida while their families and fans cheered from home. James’ fourth championship with a third team cements his place in NBA history, and inches him closer to Michael Jordan in the perpetual basketball debate over the greatest player of all time.
After the court was covered in confetti and with a victory cigar in his hand, James stated, “It doesn’t matter where it happens if you win a championship, a bubble, Miami, Golden State — it doesn’t matter. When you get to this point, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world for a basketball player to be able to win at the highest level.”