Remember the Blazers? They're back—in bubble wrap.
On Friday, after four months of hemming, hawing and handwringing, it's once again Dame Time as the NBA restarts its pandemically paused season inside "the bubble" at Walt Disney World Resort—no, not that giant Epcot ball you're probably thinking of. It's more of a metaphorical spheroid designed to keep players from interacting with the outside world and spreading the coronavirus among their quarantined peers.
Although there are still some kinks to be worked out, and while there is still quite a lot of think-piecing going on regarding whether this whole thing is a good idea, the good news is, the Blazers were close enough to the playoffs when the season stopped that Portland will get to watch them play at least eight more times—and this time with several key players back in the lineup!
But "watching basketball" is easier said than done. Sure, the games will be on TV, but how does one safely replicate the communal Blazers experience when bars have limits on capacity and social interaction? It's already gonna be weird enough when Dame pulls up from half-court and sinks a three at the buzzer in an empty gym. Imagine witnessing it while sitting alone on your couch.
At least one Portland bar chain, though, has worked out an obvious solution: Broadcast the games outside.
The Hi-Top Tavern on Northeast Fremont Street and Tough Luck in Woodlawn—both owned by ex-Mercury music editor Ezra Ace Caraeff—will be airing the Blazers' quest to squeak into the playoffs on their expansive patios, beginning with Friday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tipoff is at 1 pm, so the bars will be opening earlier than normal. (We're guessing they're not the only ones, so feel free to let us know in the comments of any other places doing outdoor showings.)
It'll be just like when they broadcast last summer's Western Conference Finals on a screen outside Moda Center, except, y'know, the Blazers actually have a legitimate shot here!
Ah, the NBA. It's great to have it back, even if we're morally conflicted about it!