ESPN's Jay Williams thinks it's a good idea to hold NBA playoffs on cruise ships


The sports world is sad. And frustrated. And bored.

There are no games to play, no games to watch, no games to produce and no games to cover. Meanwhile, people are stuck at home looking for something to do.

The situation has led to creative ideas to entertain and be entertained along with plans to get the sports world moving again. Some of these ideas are bad.

Enter Jay Williams.

Jay Williams’ big idea

The former Duke star, NBA player and current ESPN basketball analyst floated this gem on “Golic and Wingo” Monday morning.

“Maybe if you can take two of those massive cruise ships, and there’s testing before everybody goes on the ship,” Williams began. “You allow the player and their immediate family being that wife or their kids are allowed to go with them.

“And you have an Eastern Conference cruise ship, and you have a Western Conference cruise ship.”

OK, Jay. Then what?

“You never really go to shore. You stay out on the cruise ships. You build two courts on those cruise ships. ... Team members and their family members could be isolated to a degree for that span — if that’s 40 days, whatever it may be.

“You go right into the playoffs. Maybe give a week for each team to prepare. But you go right into that for the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. And then you have the championship game on a cruise ship.”

Let’s unpack all of this. It’s a lot to digest.

Let's stick hundreds of people on a cruise ship in the midst of a pandemic. What could go wrong? (Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Let's stick hundreds of people on a cruise ship in the midst of a pandemic. What could go wrong? (Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Does basketball on a cruise ship work?

First, how would basketball on a cruise ship work? Modern cruise ships are massive and built to limit the impact of the motion of the ocean. But in a sport with outcomes that depend on the bounce of a ball and putting it through a metal hoop, how much risk is there of an ocean wave impacting a game?

Probably not much. But it’s something to consider.

So players can’t leave after they lose?

Then there’s the idea of packing NBA players and their families onto cruise ships for what Williams estimates will be 40 days. Once they’re on, they’re not getting off until this thing is done. In the end, only two of the original 16 teams will still being playing basketball.

Will the vanquished be isolated to their section of the ships with no reason to be there? If we’re assuming everyone involved would otherwise be following social distancing protocols otherwise, then it would just entail a change of venue for being stuck in the same place for a long time.

But NBA players are built for this kind of isolation better than most. They’re paid well, and many of them have massive homes with boundless entertainment options. Who’s gonna sign up for this playoff cruise knowing that half of the players involved will be stuck on a ship for weeks with no reason to be there?

Let’s put people on cruise ships during a pandemic

And then there’s this salient detail. Williams is proposing packing hundreds of people onto cruise ships in the midst of a pandemic. Did he miss the memo about how contagious this thing is? Did he not see the stories of multiple cruise ships acting as petri dishes promoting the early spread of COVID-19 among their passengers and beyond?

Or the countless other previous examples of illnesses overrunning pleasure cruises?

Williams counters this point by noting that everybody will be tested before they’re admitted. This, of course, assumes that testing is infallible and would eliminate the risk of one positive case slipping by and infecting half of the NBA and its family members.

About those coronavirus tests

And as far as that testing goes, the NBA’s already under enough heat for using COVID-19 tests while they’re in short supply for everyday Americans. That’s not gonna fly.

Times are desperate. People are searching for solutions large and small to thwart the spread of the coronavirus and limit its impact. Others are looking for solutions to secondary issues like being isolated and bored. It’s admirable, as are Williams’ intentions.

Some preach that in searching for solutions, there are no bad ideas.

Those people are wrong.

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