Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The future of the season:

The 2019/20 season was suspended by the National Basketball Association (NBA) on 11th March 2020. The season was adjourned when Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to contract the virus. 

After months of being adjourned, the NBA season is finally set to resume. The Association plans for the season to restart on 30th July. With the pandemic still looming large all over the world, the risk of infection is still very much present. However, now the authorities are better equipped at handling these trying situations. The rest of the matches will be played in a “bubble”. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World will be the venue where all the matches will be played in a shortened season.

The remaining matches will take place with the utmost health scrutiny as the staff and the athletes will be tested regularly and kept in isolation from the outer world to prevent the spread of the virus. The games will be played behind closed doors but it is well understood that the presence of the fans is an essential part of the contest. To duplicate this feeling of fans’ staying as close to the action as possible, NBA and Microsoft have joined hands. 

What’s the buzz?

In a new deal between the two, Microsoft will facilitate the NBA with virtual fans. The Bill Gates owned company will set up a 17ft high screen on three sides of the arena. These screens will display as many as 300 fans to replicate the feeling of a stadium with fans in it. Microsoft’s Teams app will be used by the fans to be virtually present. 

Teams App’s Together Mode will give the user a chance to get a slot on the giant screens at Orlando Florida’s Walt Disney World basketball extravaganza. The app will use an AI that will identify the viewer’s head and shoulders and will place him/her in virtual space with other users.  Jared Spataro who heads Micro 365 said that this novel experience, courtesy the NBA/Microsoft partnership, is going to be revolutionary. This state-of-the-art technology would give the participating fans a feel of sitting next to each other at a live game while they would be stationed within the safety and sanctity of their homes. The behavior and conduct of the fans will be under strict surveillance as any fan who indulges in inappropriate or indecent behavior will be immediately removed from the screen. 

That’s quite a start:

For the first time, the cameras will be nearer to the court as the organizers try to bring the audience as close as possible to the action. The cameras will also be robotically operated. This decision is based on the need to eliminate the camera operators to minimize the risk of COVID-19 contraction. 

The efforts to add glitz to the tournament in unprecedented times have received high praise all over and NBA’s efforts for the fans have been commended in all fronts. The basketball enthusiasts all over the world are now counting days in anticipation of the action to resume once again.

 

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