It’s the beginning of the end. The end of the wait. The end of the NBA’s 2019-20 season, one we will never forget for so many reasons. And many of those reasons haven’t even happened yet.
How it all ends we don’t yet know. We do know that it will be one of the most interesting things to ever happen in the NBA and that there will be countless stories to tell, both in the short and long term. What we do know is that it is NBA history in the making and that we will be one of a select handful of outlets that will be there to be able to tell those stories from the site of where they are happening.
Whatever does happen inside the confines of the NBA’s Disney World campus, be sure that The Athletic will continue to cover it with our unique blend and approach that has allowed us to stand out in a crowded NBA media space as a go-to source for news, investigative reporting, feature writing, analysis and so much more.
If you’ve been with us, you know the many different facets and layers of what we offer our readers and listeners. We like to give you options for binging on the NBA. Some of it may be for you, some of it less so, but we want to have something for every kind of fan.
If you are just joining us, or considering doing so, I want you to know that we’ll work hard to make sure you get the absolute most out of your subscription. That thought is at the forefront of everything we do. We know that your being here and paying for your subscription requires a little bit more from us.
That The Athletic is one of just a handful of outlets allowed into the bubble is not a responsibility we take lightly. In many ways, we’ll be charged with being one of a select few record keepers of this special moment in history. In the years and decades to come, our account of what will go on in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. will be a major part of how this is all remembered and accurately accounted.
This is also a major inflection point in history for other reasons. The United States is in the midst of dealing with a global pandemic, the reason they will be playing basketball inside a bubble, all while experiencing the loudest, most impactful call for social justice reform this country has seen in generations.
David Aldridge will be giving us his thoughts on the conflict of this moment on Tuesday — that confluence of joy over the return of the game and league we all love while so much else that demands our attention is happening around us. In addition to offering his insights, commentary, reporting and analysis on everything that unfolds on the court as he has done throughout his Hall of Fame career, he will be joined by Michael Lee in leading our staff-wide focus to cover how NBA players, and the league itself, use this moment to continue to advocate for change.
Right now, national writer Joe Vardon is there inside the bubble to cover it for us. He tells us it’s the most up-close seating the media has ever had and he’s so close he could spit on the court. (Don’t worry, he knows better than to do that.) Joe’s ‘Inside the Bubble‘ reports, journals and notebooks have already been met with acclaim from our readers who appreciate the levels of detail and color he is providing from the campus. He will continue to provide us with daily accounts of what is happening inside the bubble and offer premium level access and reporting from the venues where games will be played and where practices are held. At the start, there will be more teams on campus than there will be reporters, with plenty for Joe to get into, all while adding and helping to elevate what all our beat writers who cover your favorite teams, and our national writers who aren’t on site have to offer.
And all of our writers will be busy. Our local beat writers have been working tirelessly to adapt to the realities of Zoom press conferences and covering their teams from a distance. As always, they’ve shown an amazing ability to adapt to the circumstances to continue to find unique ways to cover the teams you love. This is where the relationships they’ve built and the respect they have earned from the teams they cover will come into play more than ever.
The Athletic, and its subscribers, have been fortunate to have writers and a writing staff with a variety of abilities and areas of focus. In addition to the names above, there is Shams Charania and Sam Amick, premier NBA insiders, breaking stories and taking us behind the scenes on the moments — big and small — that have shaped the season. There is John Hollinger and Seth Partnow offering their front office experience and insights in addition to their valued analytical perspectives. There is Zach Harper and his unique voice and manner of covering and evaluating the league while remembering that it’s OK to have fun while doing so. There is the emergence of Wosny Lambre’s written voice to complement the one he’s brought to the airwaves to the enjoyment of so many listeners. And for fans of the teams who aren’t going to be playing in Orlando, there is also going to be a concerted effort to provide you with a look to the future with Sam Vecenie, one of the elite NBA Draft and scouting analysts in the industry, and Danny Leroux, who helps us all to understand the intricacies of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and building rosters within the rules of the salary cap.
One benefit of the Warriors having an early start to the offseason? It means that Marcus Thompson and Ethan Strauss will have a little extra time on their hands to join our national voices covering the restart. Sorry, Dubs fans, but something tells me you have had enough joy over the last decade to survive one early exit and let the rest of the country borrow Marcus and Ethan. We thank you for that.
All of this, and more, is just on the print side of things here. There’s also the amazing work being done by our podcast and audio teams and their brand new lineup for “The Athletic NBA Show,” to go with the amazing, award-winning “No Dunks” podcast team of Tas Melas, Leigh Ellis, Trey Kerby, J.E. Skeets, and Jason Doyle.
At The Athletic, we’d like to thank every one of our subscribers for their continued support of our staff’s coverage of the league, from all sides of what we do. We hope you’ll enjoy what we have to offer.
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(Illustration: Wes McCabe / The Athletic)