With the news that the league is scheduled to resume on July 31st, Dustin goes through his wishlist of how he hopes teams, and the league as a whole will embrace the insanity.
The NBA is going to Disney World! The league has unanimously approved a plan for a 22-team return that will feature 8 “regular-season games” to help determine seeding for the playoffs and then a marathon of a playoffs that will culminate in October before the draft in mid-October and then the start of the 2020-2021 season in December.
I’ve always enjoyed the NBA and basketball just a little bit more than other sports and leagues because no league embraces the weirdness and change quite like the NBA. Recent tweaks to the All-Star format have helped renew fan (and player) interest in the exhibition game and commissioner Adam Silver is always looking for ways to take in the input of the players and the fans. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the league was kicking around ideas for a mid-season tournament that they could host to help slumping ratings and to help prevent teams from tanking less than midway through a season.
You can read the entire plan for the league’s return here but that isn’t what we’re focusing on today. I heard the words “NBA is playing in Disney World for four months” and my imagination just completely exploded with endless thoughts and possibilities.
Playing Up the Empty Arena
- LeBron James Does the Chalk Toss – I think this is pretty much a 100% certainty that LeBron is going to do this and possibly even stare straight into the camera to do it and I can’t wait.
- T-Shirt Cannons – Just do it. Please. Once. Just give me the comedy of a mascot blasting a t-shirt into an empty corner of the arena. Or, lean the other way with it and have them come out super enthusiastically only to politely hand t-shirts to whatever friends/family/associates are actually present for these games.
- Mic Up Every Player – I know tons of people who have the habit of stepping onto a 24-Hour Fitness or park basketball court and not being able to shut up. And that’s a meaningless game of 3’s or 4’s on a random Tuesday. The thought of being able to hear what actual NBA players are saying to each other is so enticing that it has to be being discussed by the league right this second. The only thing that could hamper this is the fact that they’d probably have to implement like a 45-second delay on the live feed because the profanity would be insane.
Incorporate the Disney Setting
- Let Mickey Do the Jump Ball – Mickey Mouse standing center court dressed like a referee and tossing the jump ball would be incredible. Actually, let’s go a step further with that:
- Disney Characters as Referees – Let’s just put all the NBA officials in character outfits and have them ref the games like that. Give me Monty McCutchen, Tony Brothers, or Ken Mauer huffing it up and down the court trying to keep a handle on the game while also making sure their Goofy head doesn’t fall off or that they’re not slipping and falling with their oversized feet. I have a hunch that the 8 “regular season” games are already going to be absolutely insane as the NBA tries to figure it all out, why not just lean into it all the way?
- Disney Characters as Announcers – I don’t know which way this would be better: Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson with Goofy joining them on color commentary or a booth that is entirely Disney characters like Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck handling all the announcing duties. Expand the field, give me all the Winnie the Pooh characters or Peter Pan & Captain Hook. I don’t care. I just know that I need this to happen.
- Put Disney Characters Courtside – The theme park characters are among the most animated performers you’ll ever see. Now put them courtside and let’s watch them lose their minds as Dame pulls up from 35ft or Giannis tears down a rim with a windmill dunk. Overacting and overreacting are basically the two keys to their job. If KBO can do stuffed animals, I think the combination of the NBA and Disney World can step up and raise the bar.
- Skills Competitions…with Disney – Who can hit more 3’s in 60 seconds: Ben Simmons or someone dressed as Woody? Who has better handles: Ivica Zubac or Pluto the Dog? I’m not exaggerating when I say I would watch these types of contests for at least 12 hours.
- Let the Other Teams Watch – If I can hear Joel Embiid heckling people on the court from like 5 rows back or watch LeBron and Anthony Davis do that thing where they hold their shirts over their mouths so you can’t read their mouths but you know they’re talking shit about someone, I’d like to see that when James Harden is at the free throw line or something similar. This would give the games a more AAU feel but given that the arenas are going to be smaller, it would be wise for them to enhance the experience any possible way they can.
- Full Halftime Shows – I got news for you: Red Panda riding a unicycle and catching bowls, dogs doing obstacle courses, baby races, and everything else that NBA teams do for halftime entertainment are just as awesome with or without crowds. Even better? Let me get a video stream of Red Panda in her backyard at home. Let’s figure out remote baby races. All I’m saying is there’s no need to completely forgo the halftime show.
- Incorporate Players Into Other Areas of the Park – What I mean is: let’s get some weird pairs and groups of players to go do crazy stuff. Let’s have Russell Westbrook, De’Aaron Fox, and John Wall foot race each other across Disney World to see who’s fastest. Let’s have Kyrie Irving or Klay Thompson lead tours like a normal cast member would. You can always look and watch the candy makers make all the delicious chocolates and treats inside the shops so maybe now we have Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, and Dame Lillard trying their hands at it. There are so many things to do on a daily basis at Disney World. Throw Jimmy Butler on the Jungle Cruise and he’d quickly become the greatest Skipper ever. It would be insane for the NBA to not try to capitalize on this and make the absolute most of the unique circumstances with as many players as they can (safely) use.
I respect the NBA for working with the players and taking their feedback into consideration as they planned their comeback. I respect the NBA for being so transparent with the fans throughout the process. Now that they have their plan and it’s been approved and announced, the name of the game is content. I wouldn’t put it past the NBA to try just about anything they can think of, but if they need help brainstorming, I’m just a call away.
If you work for the NBA and would like to reach out to me for more consulting on NBA/DisneyWorld collabs, you can find me on Twitter: here. Adam Silver, let’s make the most of this once in a lifetime content opportunity