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The 2019-20 NBA season was the 74th season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The regular season began on October 22, 2019, and originally was supposed to end on April 15, 2020. However, the season was suspended on March 11 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game was played on February 16, at the United Center in Chicago, and was won by Team LeBron, 157-155. The playoffs were originally scheduled to begin on April 18, and end with the NBA Finals in June. At the time of the suspension, teams had played between 63 and 67 games.
On August 26, the season was suspended for a second time by a wildcat strike, to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake and police brutality, during the playoffs. Play resumed three days later on August 29. The Finals ended on October 11, 2020, 355 days after the October 22, 2019, regular season opening day, and 377 days after the first pre-season games on September 30, 2019. This was the longest season in NBA history.
On April 9, 2019, Dirk Nowitzki announced his retirement from the NBA. Nowitzki played all his 21 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks franchise, winning one championship and Finals MVP with the Mavericks in 2011, and also led them to a Finals appearance in 2006.
On June 10, 2019, Tony Parker announced his retirement from the NBA. He played 18 seasons in the NBA and was a four-time NBA champion and Finals MVP in 2007 with the San Antonio Spurs.
On June 28, 2019, Darren Collison announced his retirement from the NBA. He played for five franchises during his 10-year NBA career.
On September 13, 2019, Shaun Livingston announced his retirement from the NBA. He played for ten franchises during his 15-year NBA career. He won three championships with the Golden State Warriors.
On October 17, 2019, Luol Deng signed a ceremonial one-day contract with the Chicago Bulls and officially retired as a Bull after playing 15 seasons. He was a two-time All-Star with the Bulls.
On November 4, 2019, José Calderón announced his retirement from the NBA. He played for seven franchises during his 14-year NBA career.
On December 28, 2019, Zach Randolph announced his retirement from the NBA, Randolph played for five franchises during his 17-year NBA career. He was a two-time All-Star with the Memphis Grizzlies.
On February 16, 2020, Marcin Gortat announced his retirement from the NBA. He played for four franchises during his 12-year NBA career.
On April 14, 2020, Trevor Booker announced his retirement from the NBA. He played for five franchises during his eight-year NBA career.
On June 25, 2020, Vince Carter announced his retirement from the NBA. Carter played for eight franchises during a record 22-year career in the NBA; he is the only player to play in four different decades and was the last active player to have been drafted and played in the 1990s.
Free agency negotiations began on June 30, 2019, at 6 p.m. ET, unlike July 1 from previous seasons. Players officially signed after the July moratorium on July 6 at 12 p.m. ET.
The 2019-20 schedule was released on August 12, 2019, and the regular season began on October 22, 2019.
On March 11, 2020, the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reformatted regular season, with 8 more games scheduled for 22 qualified teams going to the NBA Bubble in Orlando, was released on June 26. The regular season resumed play within the bubble on July 30.
A play-in game took place in the Western Conference, as the ninth seeded Memphis finished within four games of the eighth seeded Portland. The eighth seed started with a 1-0 lead and needed just one win to advance, while the ninth seed needed to win twice to clinch the final playoff spot. Portland won the play-in game 126-122 to enter the playoffs as the eighth seed.
The 2020 NBA playoffs began on August 17 and ended with the NBA Finals, which began on September 30 and ended on October 11.
On June 4, the NBA Board of Governors approved a plan to restart the season on July 31 in Orlando. Under this plan, 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams, all clubs within six games of a playoff spot, would play eight regular season "seeding" games. Play-in games for the eighth seed in each conference would then be held if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth seed. This proposal was then approved by members of the National Basketball Players Association on June 5.
On June 16, 2020, the NBA released a medical protocol to be used during the season restart in the NBA Bubble at Walt Disney World to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches, officials, and staff. This included regular testing for COVID-19 prior to and throughout the season restart, wearing a face covering or mask, and social distancing to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 from occurring. Players and coaches who were deemed "high-risk individuals" by their team, or players who had already suffered season-ending injuries prior to season suspension, were not permitted to play and also did not lose any salary. Any player who was medically cleared could also decline to participate, but as a result lost their corresponding paychecks.
Phase 1 of the plan ran from June 16 to 22, consisting of players traveling back to the home cities of their respective teams. In Phase 2 from June 23 to June 30, COVID-19 tests began being administered to players every other day. In Phase 3 from July 1 to July 11, mandatory individual workouts were conducted at team facilities, but group workouts were prohibited.
Phase 4 ran from July 7 to July 21, consisting of the teams traveling to Disney World and conducting practices. Any player who tested positive in the previous phases could not travel until he was medically cleared to do so. Once teams arrive in Orlando, players and staff were isolated in their rooms, requiring to pass two Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart before being let out of this quarantine. They were still regularly tested for COVID-19 afterwards. A player who tested positive would be isolated and re-tested in case of a false positive; if COVID-19 was definitely confirmed, he would be quarantined for at least 14 days to recover.
Players and staff were not permitted into another's room, nor were they be able to socialize with players on other teams staying at a different hotel building. They had access to food and recreational activities within their hotel's bubble, but they had to wear masks indoors except when eating. Anybody who left the bubble without prior approval had to be quarantined for at least 10 days.
During Phase 5 from July 22 to 29, teams played three scrimmages against the other teams staying at the same hotel. During Phase 6, when the regular season seeding games and playoffs were under way and teams began to be eliminated from contention, players and staff on those clubs had to pass one final COVID-19 test before they could leave Disney World.
The NBA also set up an anonymous hotline for players to report protocol violations while in the bubble.
While the statistics from the seeding games were counted towards players' regular season totals, the NBA ruled that its end-of-season awards were only based on games through March 11 and excluded the seeding games. Finalist for the major awards were announced during the seeding games. Due to the pandemic, the NBA Awards show held the prior three years was cancelled, and award winners were instead announced on TNT during their coverage of the 2020 playoffs.
On November 27, 2019, LeBron James became the fourth player in NBA history to reach 33,000 career points.
On December 8, 2019, Luka Don?i? surpassed the record for the most consecutive games with at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Michael Jordan previously held the record, recording 18 consecutive games with at least 20-5-5 between March 13, 1989, and April 4, 1989.
On December 10, 2019, Vince Carter became the fifth player in NBA history to play at least 1,500 games.
On December 29, 2019, LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to record at least 30,000 points, 9,000 rebounds and 9,000 assists.
On January 1, 2020, NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern died at the age of 77, due to a brain hemorrhage sustained a few weeks prior. For the remainder of the season, all thirty teams wore a black stripe of fabric on the left side of their jerseys in memory of Stern.
On January 4, 2020, Vince Carter became the only player in NBA history to have played in four different decades.
On January 22, 2020, Vince Carter moved past Alex English for 19th on the NBA all-time scoring list.
On January 25, 2020, LeBron James moved past Kobe Bryant for 3rd on the NBA all-time scoring list.
On January 26, 2020, a day after being passed by LeBron James for 3rd on the NBA's all-time scoring list, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. During the first minute of each game for this day, players paid tribute by dribbling through the 24-second shot clock violation and the 8-second backcourt violation, referencing the two numbers Bryant wore during his career. In addition to this, the 2020 NBA All-Star Game was played with jersey numbers 24 and 2, the latter to pay tribute to Gianna.
On March 11, 2020, the league suspended the season indefinitely after Utah JazzcenterRudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, just hours after the WHO declared the disease a pandemic on the same day. Gobert's positive test causes a massive ripple effect, causing a shutdown of the vast majority of the sports world within five days. Vince Carter played in what became his final game, hitting a three-pointer as his final shot in a 136-131 overtime loss to the New York Knicks.
On June 4, the NBA Board of Governors approved 29-1 (with the lone dissenter being the Portland Trail Blazers) resuming the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World, after prior consideration of Las Vegas and Houston as potential spots.
On June 16, 2020, the NBA released a medical protocol to be used during the season restart in the bubble to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches, officials, and staff.
On June 25, 2020, Vince Carter officially announced his retirement after 22 seasons and four separate decades in the NBA. He is the only player to accomplish both these feats.
On August 23, 2020, Luka Don?i?'s performance in Game 4 of the Dallas Mavericks playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, including 43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists, and a game-winning buzzer beater, broke a number of records. He became the youngest player to hit a game-winning buzzer beater in the playoffs, one of only three players to make 40+ points, 15+ rebounds, and 10+ assists in a playoff game, one of only five players to make 40+ points including a buzzer beater in a playoff game,first Dallas Maverick to have a triple double in the playoffs, among others.
On August 23, 2020, Donovan Mitchell scored 51 points and Jamal Murray scored 50 points in a playoff game between the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets, the first time in NBA history that two players scored 50 points in a playoff game.
On September 15, 2020, the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals after initially trailing in the series 3-1. This marked the first time that a team overcame consecutive 3-1 series deficits in a single playoff run, as the Nuggets had previously overcome a 3-1 series deficit to win their first round series against the Utah Jazz.