With the sudden cancellation of the 2020 NBA season, many basketball fans’ hearts were broken. One of the most historic and entertaining years came to an abrupt stop, along with all other sports, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this should not stop fans from reliving some of the best moments of the 2019-20 season.
One of the most monumental moments this season came in late January, as the death of Kobe Bryant crushed the basketball world. Despite the tragic event, the tributes to Bryant seen across the NBA were amazing to witness.
In the games following Bryant’s death, NBA teams each took a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of the late legend’s number. Later, players across the country took the court with the names of Bryant and his daughter on their shoes.
Players across the country took the court with the names of Bryant and his daughter on their shoes. Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, who Bryant mentored, started the game trading in his jersey for Bryant’s number to honor the fallen legend.
While there are many more tributes that players had across the country in honor of Bryant’s legacy, these tributes show the impact Bryant alone had on the game of basketball.
One of the breakout stars from this season was rookie Ja Morant. The second-overall pick of the 2019 draft made an immediate impact on the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 16.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
While Morant has had several spectacular plays, one in particular shocked the NBA world. In a game against the Cavaliers on Dec. 20, Morant charged to the basket with the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love standing beneath.
With Love looking to take a charge, Morant nearly jumped over the nearly seven-foot-tall forward, attempting an emphatic slam dunk. The ball missed and hit the rim, but the play was still a jaw-dropping feat of athleticism.
Another notable storyline from this year surrounds the rapid development of Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young — second-year players that many fans are looking toward as the future of the NBA.
While Doncic and Young showed promise in their respective rookie seasons, few could have predicted what would come next. Both players’ offensive production exploded, and they are seen as the league’s next crop of superstars.
In December 2019, Doncic broke Michael Jordan’s record of 18 consecutive games with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, according to NBA.com. As of the league’s suspension, Doncic ranked sixth in points per game and fourth in assists per game, according to ESPN.
Young ranked among the league’s best offensive players in 2019-20, averaging 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game.
The players each received their first all-star nominations in 2020 and both were featured in the game’s starting lineups.
Another solid takeaway from this NBA season was the redone All-Star game. While the game has earned a reputation for being uncompetitive, this year’s was completely changed by a new scoring format.
Changes included a fourth-quarter tribute to Bryant and a reset of the score every quarter to prevent a blowout. In the fourth, the clock was turned off and a final target score was put in place to decide a champion.
Such changes may seem confusing to many, but the league succeeded in restoring a competitive spirit to the game. The 2020 All-Star Game was far more entertaining than those prior. Players were diving for balls, taking charges and playing to win. While the 2019-20 NBA season came to an abrupt halt, it was one of the more entertaining seasons in recent memory.
The NBA’s future is still unknown as this season might not feature any playoffs or even a champion. Despite this, its dramatic and emotional moments made this season one to remember.
Disclaimer: All arguments in the Sentinel’s sports editorials belong to the writer and do not reflect the intentions or beliefs of the Sentinel, editorial staff, Kennesaw State University or KSU Athletics.