Mavs Donuts: How the NBA Can Make Magic in Orlando


DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks are heading East to the most “Magical Place On Earth.'' ...

DONUT 1: MAKING MAGIC Now, in a basketball sense, how do we keep it that way?

The NBA is unveiling its plan to host games at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando,. The league has a model to return to play the 2019-20 season in a Coronavirus world starved of Kristaps Porzingis slam dunks (and long bombs) and Luka Doncic fancy assists (and long bombs.)

The return of televised sports is highly-anticipated with many details still unknown. How can professional sports leagues mitigate risk, create a healthy and safe atmosphere while also entertaining the sports fan?

In other words ... How can they make this magical?

DONUT 2: THE PLAN We know most of the details of the NBA's plan. (See here.) But ... There is no sure-fire template. So, as sports return, big and small, maybe each of the leagues can learn from each other.

DONUT 3: GOLF LESSON The NBA can learn from the highly-entertaining charity golf event, “The Match 2.” Yes, you read that correctly. A fun-to-watch charity golf broadcast in which Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning beat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.

The mics were hot and the announcers were authentic. The players picked on each other, amplifying personalities and breaking down their golf moves.

DONUT 4: WHAT BAREA SAYS That made-for-TV (and made-for-charity) event offered welcome insight at a level that the NBA would be smart to implement sans fans in the stands. As demonstrated in my conversation with Mavs veteran J.J. Barea, he is all for the "all-access'' idea. (Read here.)

Added JJB: “The intensity will still be just as good. Players want to win no matter what.''

The idea being floated right now: Crowd noise pumped in via NBA 2K video-game sound effects.

DONUT 5: SAFETY FIRST The NBA has already implemented safety measures that players and coaches will have to follow, like wearing a mask at all times except on the court. There will also be testing, social-distancing and rules about how to spend time away from the gym. (The Athletic suggests there will be a maximum of 1,600 people allowed on campus and that families will only be allowed to enter "the bubble'' after the first round of the playoffs.)

DONUT 6: 51 PAGES? Germany's Bundesliga, the first major European soccer league to return to action, has a 51-page plan for creating a healthy atmosphere. Should the NBA implement some of their precautions? To wit ...

DONUT 7: PASS THE TESTS Players there are tested twice a week and, if they return a positive result, are placed into 14-day isolation. (It sounds like the NBA will exceed that testing number.)

In Orlando, the NBPA will reportedly conduct Coronavirus testing on a nightly basis.

DONUT 8: NO MASCOTS?! Fans are not in attendance and neither are mascots. has reported on the idea of having TNT/ serve as the media outlet for all games. The Athletic says there is a proposed 35-person travel party limit per team, 

DONUT 9: GOODBYE, HANDSHAKES Players celebrate with ankle or elbow taps - the same as many of us do with one another, handshakes seemingly a thing of the past.

Right? No, none of us should be ankle-tapping as a greeting. But elbows. Right?

DONUT 10: IT'S GROSS, ANYWAY Players are discouraged to spit. (I always endorse this in my personal life.)

DONUT 11: DALLAS' EDGE? In Dallas' specific case?

 We have our reports on Luka Doncic's fitness (good) and his hand (great!). The Mavs have young legs and a training staff led by Casey Smith that is second to none. And in owner Mark Cuban, they have a progressive boss surely willing to pitch in to offer access to any possible edge.

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD In an unprecedented time, the NBA must make some tough decisions to get basketball back. If the NBA has itself a smart model for return, and we're allowed to focus just on the game for just a little bit? The West's No. 7-seed Mavs, led by "Playoff Luka,'' might just be able to take advantage.