The King has spoken. LeBron James refutes Jabari Young’s report that NBA executives and agents want to cancel the remainder of the season.
Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything. 👑
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 30, 2020
Young’s article on CNBC.com details NBA team executives and player agents who (anonymously) spoke to him about the challenges of returning in 2020. “The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity as they aren’t authorized to discuss league matters publicly.”
Chief among the difficulties, money lost.
Sports marketing executive Marty Conway estimated the NBA would lose over $1 billion if it cancels the rest of the season, factoring in media, corporate sponsorship and game-day revenues.
“You’d be looking a billion dollar hole that would then play into next year’s salary cap,” said Conway, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Young’s sources tell him that teams are reporting losses despite the NBA’s massive media deals, including one Western Conference team “has already lost roughly $50 million this season and doesn’t have much incentive to restart the season anymore.”
Despite all the signals that it will be nearly impossible to rescue the rest of the NBA season, a league spokesperson told CNBC the league is still working on plans to resume.
“It is the responsibility of the league office to explore all options for a return to play this season,” the spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “We owe that to our fans, teams, players, partners and all who love the game. While our top priority remains everyone’s health and well-being, we continue to evaluate all options to finish this season. At the same time, we are intensely focused on addressing the potential impact of Covid-19 on the 2020-21 season.”
If the NBA even could open their season back up, they could still face issues from the government, both federally and locally. Some states have started to open up certain businesses (like gyms) but social distancing rules still apply. Young notes Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s health advisor on the coronavirus pandemic, said he doubts we will see sports again in 2020.
As much as James, and the rest of us, would like to see sports return, the safety of everyone involved is obviously the most important aspect to take into account.