No budget, no bubble: NBL season on the line

St. John’s Edge head coach Steven Marcus remains hopeful the NBL season will resume in early 2021.

James Piercey
Kicker 

MIle One Center
The Mile One Centre feels a little empty without the St. John’s Edge. Local fans hope the NBL season will resume soon. James Piercey/Kicker

Basketball fans in St. John’s are wondering if the successful 2020 NBA playoffs provide a glimmer of hope for their beloved Edge.

The National Basketball Association recently completed its 2019-20 season, three months after its expected finish. The big league season was completed in a “bubble” – a contained environment in Orlando, Fla. This, obviously, was a Covid-19-related precaution.

Unfortunately, the National Basketball League, the professional league that hosts the St. John’s Edge, does not have the means to follow suit.

“It’s just too different,” said Steven Marcus, the head coach of the Edge. “The NBA has huge TV revenue streams. Our league thrives on ticket sales. If we can’t sell tickets, we can’t make money.”

However, Marcus is still optimistic the season will eventually resume.

“A December start is unrealistic, but maybe an early 2021 start is possible,” Marcus said.

Here in St. John’s, fans are hoping that is the case.

“I understand why we can’t have them, but I sure do miss the Edge,” longtime Edge fan Josh Bourden said.

“It was interesting to see such a hockey town go all in on basketball.”

According to Marcus, the sudden popularity of basketball was a positive development for the community in general.

“Basketball is an extremely inexpensive sport,” Marcus said. “All you need is a hoop and a ball and you can play. We strive to be role models in our community, for the younger folks.”

A brief conversation around the subject of basketball reveals Marcus’s obvious passion for the game. It is equally obvious that this native New Englander has a desire to share that passion with the community.

Since the Edge came to town, said Marcus, the sport has grown in popularity locally. Much of this growth can probably be credited to the team’s success two seasons ago, when the Edge made the NBL finals, in part due to the presence of former NBA champion Glen Davis.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Glen,” said Marcus. “I learned so much from him and took that opportunity to soak up all the knowledge I could.”

Not every player that finds his way onto the Edge has reached the heights of Glen “Big Baby” Davis, but every single player who plays for the team is talented. At some point, they all had a realistic NBA dream. Steve says he manages this talent with one important principle in mind:

“Treat them like pros, and they’ll act like pros.”

Of course, St. John’s residents are all too familiar with the impact of Covid-19 on virtually every facet of their lives. In the grand scheme of things, many would feel the resumption of the NBL season is a low priority.  However, for those in the St. John’s community with a passion for the game, it means a great deal.

The benefits of team sports in terms of youth development are well-known and studied. The influence the St. John’s Edge has had on our community is equally apparent. Marcus says ticket sales have increased “significantly” since the team’s inception in 2017.

The only question remaining is whether the city will have a St. John’s Edge team to enjoy next year.

“There’s always a chance,” said Marcus.

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