The NBA season restart is scheduled to begin July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. The arenas will not feature fans, or at least not real, live, actual people in the stands.
But Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Wednesday in the bubble (related: here’s how reporters are doing in the bubble) that he got a look at the setup for games, and said the games will feature virtual fans, noise, digital boards, and “home team sounds.”
The Mavs' practice gym today was adjacent to one of the playing venues. Rick Carlisle says he peeked around the curtain and was blown away by the way the arena is set up. "Very cool." Discussed how there will be "virtual fans" and noise.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) July 15, 2020
Rick Carlisle says there’s going to be virtual fans, digital boards, and “home team sounds” (?) during games in Orlando.
— Paolo Uggetti (@PaoloUggetti) July 15, 2020
Adding crowd noise to the games — at least the broadcasts — has been expected, and something we’re seeing across sports (even in MLB intrasquad games). It was even reported that the NBA has considered using NBA 2K video game sounds for crowd noise.
But it’s unclear what “home team sounds” are supposed to be. Lineup introduction songs? Team sayings like “Deee-troit Basketball” (the Detroit Pistons aren’t even part of this bubble)? It could just be a way to describe the louder elements of crowd noise, like the fake crowd chanting “Let’s go _!” or “Dee-fense!”, celebrating when the home team scores, noises when the opposition shoots free throws, etc.
And the virtual fans mention is very interesting. Barring the immediate invention of incredible hologram technology, this feature is surely just for television broadcasts (unless Carlisle considers cardboard cutouts as “virtual”).
The NBA using digital boards in the arenas makes sense- the MLS has used digital boards for ads (a lot of them), graphics, and videos during their games so far.
We’ll find out for sure on all of this in a couple weeks, but the NBA is clearly trying to be very creative with their presentation in empty arenas.