Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Golden State Warriors fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
For the third straight season, the coronavirus pandemic has made a serious impact on the NBA. With the omicron variant rushing through the country and world, the league has seen well over 100 players enter the health and safety protocols, with a handful of games being postponed — including the Golden State Warriors scheduled contest against the Denver Nuggets last week.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the pandemic is taking a toll on how much fans are enjoying the sport. According to the latest SB Nation Reacts poll, more than two-thirds of NBA fans felt that they were enjoying the season less because of the coronavirus.
One of the interesting elements of the coronavirus-impacted season is the amount of doors it’s opened for players who weren’t in the league. As of Friday morning, 580 players had played at least one minute of action in the league this year, and that doesn’t include players who were added to rosters but didn’t play. For comparison, in 2018-19 — the last season pre-pandemic — a total of just 530 people played in the entire season ... and we’re less than halfway through the 2021-22 campaign.
Some of the players who have made the league because of the pandemic are youngsters or journeymen who get the excitement of an NBA debut. Others, like Mario Chalmers and Joe Johnson, are former quality veterans who have been out of the league for a few years.
It’s made for a lower quality of basketball, simply because there’s less cohesion and chemistry with so many moving parts. But most NBA fans report that the quality of play hasn’t kept them from watching games.
And we couldn’t talk about coronavirus impacting the season without mentioning Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving. Ever since training camp, Irving has been one of the main stories of the season. He was supposed to form a superstar triumvirate with Kevin Durant and James Harden, but after refusing to get vaccinated, was deemed ineligible to play in Brooklyn’s home games, or practice when the team was at home. The team decided to not let him play in any games, to keep continuity and presumably not show preferential treatment.
After the Nets had to place a huge number of players in the health and safety protocols, they made the decision to allow Irving to play in road games, though he was then promptly admitted into the protocols. In terms of having enough healthy bodies, the team no longer needed him once he became available, but they’d already made the decision, and he made his season debut on Wednesday.
According to polled NBA fans, most people think that Brooklyn is making a mistake allowing an unvaccinated Irving to return to the team in the middle of a huge omicron wave.
Have you found that the coronavirus has negatively impacted how much you enjoy this season?
Whether the answer is yes or no, please wear a mask and get vaccinated and boosted if you’re not already.