There is no guarantee that the NBA will be able to finish the 2019-20 season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. If they are able to pull off the tall task, there is a very good chance that the league will start out playing in empty buildings to ensure player and fan safety.
It is a difficult thought. The sound of sneakers squeaking and the ball bouncing, but nothing else. A referee’s whistle could be heard blocks away without 17,000-plus cheering bodies to dampen the noise.
From the shot clock buzzer to the sound of Luke Walton’s baritone voice bellowing out commands, it’s all very strange to imagine.
While the experience would be different for people on the outside looking in, this is how many NBA players grew up with the game. They started playing in front of parents at rec league games, but the real work came in their driveways, at local parks and in gymnasiums where they practice in front of a coach with a whistle.
On the latest edition of the Purple Talk Podcast, we caught up with Kings starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, and one of the topics of discussion was the idea of playing without fans.
“I played in Serbia without fans and we were fighting,” Bogdanovic said. “So I got used to it a little bit.”
Listen and subscribe to the Purple Talk Podcast:
Serbia or New Orleans or the Bahamas, it doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t until college that most of these players truly had the experience of playing in front of a packed house. It might take a game or two to get used to, but that might be the reality facing all professional sports in the near future.
“It will be weird for sure,” Bogdanovic added. “It will feel like a practice game, not a real game.”
While the Kings are in the middle of a 13-season playoff drought, that doesn’t mean that fans aren’t still flooding into Golden 1 Center every game. Known as one of the most loyal and loud fanbases, Kings fans have an ability to energize the building.
[RELATED: Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown]
For Bogdanovic, he equated the feeling to being in a battle.
“The fans are something that brings that feeling like you are in a gladiator arena,” Bogdanovic said. “Imagine two gladiators fighting, or more, without fans. It would be boring.”
Bogdanovic is hoping to return to the court as soon as the league allows it, but he also has a strong perspective. He wants the fans to stay safe and if that means they have to watch the game through the television set while the team plays in an empty arena, then he understands.
We still are at least a month or more away from knowing what might happen this season, but all options are on the table. With any luck, there will be basketball, but what that might look like is a long way from being determined.