The Man Who May Have Saved the NBA Season

Ok, so the title may be a little bit of a stretch. But given recent news of Disney World becoming the front runner for a return to play site for the NBA, it is important to continue to give Keith Smith of Yahoo Sport, the credit he deserves. On April 16th of this year Keith released an article explaining how Walt Disney World and ESPN Wide World of Sports as an ideal site to create a bubble and continue the 2019-2020 season.

You can read Keith’s write up HERE.

I first read Keith’s article and as a recent convert to a Disney lover, the idea seemed really cool to me and pretty genius. Coolest part is that it gained a ton of steam, and is now a reality, that this is something that may happen.

Keith was super cool, especially for a Celtics fan, and answered some questions for me about his idea, how it could work, and fun stuff about Disney. Here is the short Q and A I had with Keith.

Are you a big Disney person?

Is that how you came up with the idea? – I am a huge Disney fan. Have been my whole life. But I also worked for Disney for nearly 20 years. The majority of that time was at Walt Disney World in Florida, but also some time at Disneyland in California. The idea was floating around in my head as soon as the idea of a single-site was mentioned, because I’m very familiar with what the NBA needs and how uniquely equipped Disney is to offer it.

Are there gyms at Disney they could use for weight lifting purposes?

Yes. In addition, the expectation is that teams will bring some of their own equipment with them.

I think you explained pretty well the areas that courts can be used to play games and practice, would you ever expect the NBA if they adopted this idea to maybe not let it be a 1 time thing? Maybe something like mid season tourney can be played there? I would love to take a family vacation to Disney and be able to go to a basketball game.

It’s certainly possible. Who wouldn’t like to escape the winter for a week or two in the middle of the year and head to Florida? I think there are lots of good things that could come out of this long-term, as well as the obvious short-term benefit.

I guess I should ask about if the arenas have the ability to have fans?

The ability, yes. But there will not be fans in attendance. The NBA has already ruled that out. It’s also likely next season starts with empty arenas, or at least very few fans in attendance.

Has anyone, other than Jared Dudley, contacted you about your idea?

I have spoken to several players. All seem enthusiastic about the idea, whether it be Disney or elsewhere. I’ve also had some contact with other people in the NBA, as well as with Disney who are hopefully it can be worked out.

Any idea of what hotel would be good to house players and family?

I think the likely resort may end up being Coronado Springs. It’s a fairly straight shot to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. It’s also been recently refurbished and is Disney’s prime convention resort. As such, if necessary for additional workout space or meeting space, Coronado Springs can over over 220,000 square feet of space that can be configured to whatever the NBA needs.

Finally Disney is talking about possibly re-opening not sure when but do you think that would throw a wrench in the plan?

I don’t think so. Coronado Springs is unlikely to be one of the first resorts to book back up. If not Coronado Springs, Disney has plenty of other resort space to offer. As for the theme parks, it’s likely to be a slow, staggered re-opening. And the Sports complex is pretty far away from any of the parks. Keeping everyone isolated should be fairly easily done.

As for the good stuff!

Favorite ride?

Haunted Mansion. It’s always been my favorite. It’s so much fun. And now that I’m an old dad, it’s nice to sit and relax on a ride on a hot day!

Favorite movie/movie character ?

Mickey Mouse. He’s just the best. My dad is a cranky old man and he even smiles a huge smile when he sees Mickey!

Have you been to star wars land yet?

I have. I have not experience Rise of the Resistance yet, but the rest of the land is absolutely incredibly. A true dream for Star Wars fans and fun even if Star Wars isn’t your thing!

Favorite Disney restaurant?

This is so hard to answer. It depends what I’m in the mood for. But one of my favorites is Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s an incredible buffet that features foods from Africa. Breakfast is my favorite!

From one Disney geek to another, I applaud Keith for his critical thinking, and I am thrilled the NBA picked this idea up and seems to be running with it. Obviously, there are still a ton of hurdles to overcome with the current climate, but as it seems now it looks like a return to play is a real possibility and looks like at least one site will be Disney World, Orlando. That is cool if you ask me, and if they find a way to pull it off, and keep everyone involved safe, how great would it be to have basketball back this year!

You can follow Keith on twitter at @KiethSmithNBA , he has almost up to the minute details about the ongoing process of the potential return to play. I want to thank Keith again for taking time to answer the questions and I am excited to see what will come of this!

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