New NBA G-League bubble keeps players safe as season restarts


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Team Ignite Shooting Guard Jalen Green plays defense in an exhibition game with Team USA in the summer of 2019.

On Feb. 10, the NBA G-league, the official minor league of the National Basketball Association, played its first slate of games in its COVID safe bubble located at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, after nearly an 11-month pause due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The bubble consists of 18 teams, 17 of which are affiliated with an NBA team, and one composed of young players looking to get drafted by an NBA team.

Due to the Coronavirus, the NBA G-league has not played in competitive matches since late March of 2020. Even though the G-league is affiliated with the NBA, the G-league does not receive nearly as much money and financial aid to pay for testing and other safety protocols in order to keep the players safe, according to ESPN and the NBA Players Association. “I am excited to get back on the court and help my team win games,” Jalen Green of The Ignite said to Cody Taylor of USA Today Sports.

Once the G-league received enough revenue in order to start their new season, they had to devise a plan in order to keep players, coaches, referees and other staff members safe and protected from the Coronavirus as best as possible. Lucky for them, the NBA finished their season in a bubble at the same location four months prior, so it was much easier to devise a plan and put it into place. “I think it is cool how the NBA G-league was able to just copy the NBA bubble and get players back on the court,” sophomore Connor Mitchel said.

The G-league not only looks different because of COVID, but also consists of a different number of teams, including an entirely new team. Just last season there were a total of 29 teams in the G-league, all affiliated with an NBA franchise. This year there are 18 teams, one of which is called The Ignite and is composed of top NBA draft prospects who did not want to go to college. “It’s fun to watch The Ignite play because less than a year ago they were playing high school basketball,” senior Thomas Jezek said.

In addition to The Ignite containing NBA draft prospects, they also have former NBA players to help mentor the young players and hopefully try to earn themselves a spot on an NBA roster again. The most notable young players on the roster include Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix and Kai Soto, and the veterans include Jarett Jack, Amir Johnson and Bobby Brown. “My favorite player to watch is Jalen Green because of his freakish athleticism,” junior Dason Miller said.

The NBA G-league regular season will consist of 15 regular season games in 25 days starting on Feb. 10. The playoffs are set to start on Mar. 8 and the final is set for Mar. 11. “Let the games begin,” commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with an ESPN sideline reporter.