After 141 days, the NBA season made its long-awaited return at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, with the New Orleans Pelicans taking on the Utah Jazz before the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers squared off in a potential Western Conference Finals preview.
The league had to make many changes ahead of opening night, including a wider sideline border, physically distanced team benches and coverings for officials’ whistles. Despite the differences, the players were certainly excited to get back on the court.
Here are some of the best sights and sounds from the NBA restart, including a chilling opening montage on “Black Lives Matter” narrated by Meek Mill, and the Pelicans and Jazz taking a knee in solidarity during the national anthem.
.@MeekMill delivers a powerful message for The Return.
The NBA restart tips off at 5pm ET on TNT. pic.twitter.com/qiuSVyhYrc
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 30, 2020
— Thon Maker ™ (@ThonMaker14) July 30, 2020
NBA back !! Feel like Christmas!! Except this year I gotta watch all my brothers open their gifts while I watch and pretend to be happy for them
— Maurice Harkless (@moe_harkless) July 30, 2020
It doesn’t even seem real that I’m watching basketball right now
— Josh Okogie (@CallMe_NonStop) July 30, 2020
LeBron hammers off the rust
Zion throws down
It didn’t take long for one of the league’s top young stars to make an impact as Zion Williamson made a statement in his return to the court.
NBA players take in the action
With only four teams playing on opening night, the rest of the players decided to spend their downtime taking in some of the action, including Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry and former teammate DeMar DeRozan.
A group of @NBA players including Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, DeMar DeRozan, Carmelo Anthony, Kyle Lowry, and a few others arrived about 20 minutes before tipoff to watch Lakers-Clippers.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 31, 2020
“Fans” provide some comedic relief
Many also couldn’t help but poke some fun at the league’s attempt to recreate fans in the stands.
Down to the wire
It was only a seeding game, but Lakers vs. Clippers was ripe with playoff intensity. With the game on the line, James answered a clutch Paul George three-pointer with a very unique game-winning basket.
The end of this Lakers-Clippers game was wild pic.twitter.com/j4OEGE7vpb
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 31, 2020
Sign us up for seven games between these two juggernauts.