The NBA Just Isn’t The Same

Gabriel Heater, Sports Editor

When you look back at the greatest moments of NBA history, there is something present in all of these moments of sports history that give the game of basketball that electrifying feeling. After revisiting some of the greatest moments ever witnessed I’ve come to notice that the fans are an essential part of what makes the NBA so successful, the crowd breathes life in each and every game. The fans create a unique atmosphere that you can’t see anywhere else, something the 2021 NBA season is missing.

The NBA’s strict COVID guidelines have prohibited fans from attending regular-season games so that the season continues with the players having a lower chance of contracting COVID and potentially creating another lockdown throughout the league. While it is completely justifiable that the sidelines are empty, so far the NBA has lost some of its magic as the cheers have been replaced by silence.

Before the pandemic, I thought what made NBA basketball great was the athleticism, finesse, and the skillset professional athletes utilized that made the game memorable. After watching some regular-season games I’ve come to notice that the game has felt stale so far. Though there have still been astounding moments that have happened during the regular season I can’t help but get this unusual feeling that something is missing. 

The crowd sitting on the sidelines creates a significant impact during each and every game. They produce a certain atmosphere during the game and have potentially changed the outcome of some matchups. Looking back at some of the most hyped plays of the NBA I’ve come to notice that the crowd may have influenced the game by creating this sort of momentum. In cerian moments like this, the crowd can completely turn the tables as just being in an action-packed arena alone is enough to get a rush of adrenaline and the confidence boost to make that comeback.

One of my favorite moments in the NBA so far such as Kawhi Leonard’s iconic game-winner against the Philadelphia 76’ers during game seven of the 2019 eastern conference finals. Revisiting that moment, the fans are the ones who have made this moment great. You can just feel the tension as the silence before the last shot had everyone on the edge of their seat. At one point the arena had become so silent that you can actually hear the four bounces on the rim before the shot eventually made it in the bottom of the basket. Right as the ball went in the anticipated silence immediately transformed into an exhilarating atmosphere as every fan seemed to jump out of their seat in complete awe. Another memorable moment that had been molded by the crowd had to be the game-winning shot by Damian Lillard during game six of the first round in 2014. With less than a second left on the shot clock, Lillard did the impossible, drilling the three to take the Trail Blazers to the second round for the first time in over 14 years. After the shot went in the crowd created a similar atmosphere from Kawhi Leonard’s game-winner as well as the hype was at an all-time high in the arena. It is these moments that become unforgettable throughout NBA history. 

Up until now, I have taken the fans for granted. No matter what sport you watch the fans create this factor which makes sports fun to watch. It is the chants, the claps, and the roaring crowd that made me fall in love with watching the sport. 

Fortunately, the NBA has announced that arenas can start admitting fans into the arena as long as this action is approved by local and state health officials. According to, up to seventeen NBA teams will begin to allow fans to enter the stadiums by the end of March. While fans are already entering the arena, teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and many more teams are yet to begin. Since fans are now able to attend games, there are still COVID guidelines that must be followed to reduce the chances of the fans and the athletes contracting the virus. Some of these guidelines consist of fans not being allowed to sit courtside being at least 15 feet behind the bench, some seats require negative COVID test results and have banned eating/drinking in seats closer to the athletes, and masks are still mandatory unless in certain seats where fans are able to eat and drink. 

While it is exciting to see the fans back in the arena, I believe that it is still way too soon to start allowing fans to attend games. It may be true that only a small number of fans will be able to enter the arena but COVID is still contagious and lethal. The fans may make the games more enjoyable but it’s safe to say that admitting fans into the arena is an ignorant move that can put many lives in danger. Unless COVID infection rates dramatically decrease it’s safe to say that fans should not be allowed in the arena until it is completely safe to further prevent another lockdown.