As time passes, it seems more and more likely it is that this NBA season — already derailed by the outbreak of COVID-19, or the coronavirus — will be significantly altered or cancelled entirely, an outcome that would obviously suck for the Los Angeles Lakers, who were in the midst of their most promising season in years.
The team has been honest about how unfortunate that would be. LeBron James has lamented that things came to a halt just as he was rounding into postseason form. Alex Caruso has called the suspension “frustrating” because of how much this season means to the Lakers.
Their head coach, Frank Vogel, echoed those sentiments in an interview this week, although he did admit that obviously basketball isn’t the most important thing in the world right now (via Bill Oram of the Athletic):
“It would be a huge disappointment if we aren’t able to play,” Vogel said Thursday in a conference call with a small group of reporters, his first comments to independent media outlets. “However, we get it, and this is bigger than basketball. And us getting back on the court is not the most important thing for the world right now. Hopefully we have that chance, and if we’re not able to, it would be a big disappointment.”
It would be a “disappointment” made even worse because the Lakers’ final few games featured wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers. Those seem like eons ago now, but at the time, they were exactly the types of wins over contenders that — when coupled with the Lakers’ Western Conference-best 49-14 record — proved the purple and gold were very much a real threat to win the title this season.
Even if they didn’t ultimately win a championship, though, postseason basketball is still an experience that would be missed. The Lakers had clinched a playoff spot for the first time in seven years, and now it’s one they may not even get to use. That’s going to hurt not only the team, but this entire fanbase if it happens, just one more gut punch in a season that’s been incredible on the court but filled with tragedy and complications off of it.
Vogel is still scouting opponents just in case the season does come back, but in the meantime he’s trying to focus on the positives of this off time:
For now, Vogel is staying home, binging television shows with his wife and two daughters and catching up on classic basketball moments on TV. He tried to find some silver lining in the hiatus.
“It’s a time of year where we typically are not able to see our families very much,” he said. “Enjoying that aspect of it.”
Still, it’s a sure bet that all of us, Vogel included, would rather return to a little sense of normalcy. Hopefully that all comes soon enough for basketball to come back with it, even if — as Vogel noted — that’s far from the biggest concern in the world right now. It’s not too much to wish both were possible, is it?