MIAMI – The NBA bubble has burst, and a new season kicks off Tuesday.
The Miami Heat will play their first game Wednesday but gone are the days of virtual fans and the Covid-free bubble at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.
Teams will go back to playing in their arenas and traveling for games, with no fans allowed in the building.
“It felt a little different,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said of playing preseason games in an empty area. “The bubble I felt like was meant for no fans and obviously these arenas are meant to be packed.”
“We’re professionals and this is what we’re trained to do,” added Heat forward Myers Leonard. “We love the game. Once you get in between those four lines, it’s almost like those four lines are a perimeter of your focus in your mind.”
The bubble helped mitigate losses for the NBA, but the league still lost money last season due to the pandemic.
According to ESPN, revenue dropped 10% to $8.3 billion. That is largely due to losses of gate receipts from fans, merchandise sales and sponsorship.
With play resuming close to normal this year, without fans in the stands, the projected loss is set to be 40%, about $4 billion.