I watched it happen in real-time. I saw the reaction of the players, the coaches, the referees on the court, the ESPN broadcasters, the fans, the owner. It was devastating and all too real to be happening already. I had been closely following and reading the news, specifically New York Times, of the (at the time) impending global health crisis, so I knew it was coming to the US soon. I just didn’t think it would happen this quickly, a Wednesday night in early March. It didn’t seem real, that the NBA would close as swiftly as a pin drop, falling from the not so distant sky and landing right on my personal map, shattering my present, my daily life.
One by one, the games were canceled that same night, fans slowly lumbering out of the stadium, some crying, some outraged, some confused, some staying in their seats out of defiance and maybe solidarity. In that moment, as I watched what I was soon realizing would be the last NBA game I would have the privilege of watching for an indefinite length of time, it hit me. This was the first instance of the virus impacting me personally, as an individual, of taking root in my home and changing my routine.
Of course, I knew this was coming and I was prepared, but I was not prepared for the emotions that followed. I had anticipated spending more free time watching NBA basketball games during this tumultuous and isolating time, to maintain normalcy and fun. But now, all of those plans and hopes were uprooted. Nothing about this situation is normal, and I no longer could pretend that life going forward would be anything close to resembling normal. As difficult as a decision the NBA closure was, it was a critically important one that caught the ears and eyes of other decision-makers in the US. They took notice, they listened, and they learned, even people who have never watched an NBA game in their life. The NBA decision mattered because they were one of the first major organizations to shutdown in hopes of containing the spread of the virus for the safety of not only their organization, but for the nation. I have never been more proud to call myself an NBA fan because of their decision to shutdown and to courageously lead by example. In my world, and in many others, the NBA was the domino that started the fall.
-- Ashlee Albertson
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