The NBA season restart in Orlando has provided plenty of entertainment for fans at home, but with fans unable to physically attend games due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the league has found a new way to bring the atmosphere to the bubble.
In collaboration with Microsoft and Michelob Ultra, fans can register for 'virtual seats' at games, with more than 300 NBA fans invited to appear live on the "Michelob ULTRA Courtside" 17-foot video boards surrounding the court for each game at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Fans can digitally interact with each other throughout the games using Microsoft's "Together mode" to create a virtual experience, re-creating the feeling of sitting next to each other, but from the comfort of your own home, while giving the players a taste of the support and energy in the arena.
"Working with our broadcast and technology partners, we are excited to unveil a series of enhancements that will bring fans closer to the game and allow them to personalize their viewing experience," said Sara Zuckert, NBA Head of Next Gen Telecast.
"Our goal is to create an enjoyable and immersive experience where fans can engage with each other and maintain a sense of community as we restart the season under these unique and challenging circumstances."
How to sign up to be a virtual fan
If you want to support your team in the arena, you can sign up via individual team sites to register your interest, but with only 320 seats available per game, you have to get in quick.
The Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Miami Heat, and other teams have set up registration forms on their team websites. If you are successful in registering for the game, you will be notified via email.
For US residents, Michelob Ultra, the official beer of the NBA is offering fans a chance to attend games via ultracourtside.com - and even win virtual seats at the NBA Finals, along with other giveaways.
The @NBA Season is here! Who's going to the Finals? Possibly you. Reply with #ULTRACourtside and #Sweepstakes for a chance to win 2 virtual courtside seats to the NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/VnxKoROaav- Michelob ULTRA (@MichelobULTRA) July 30, 2020
How to access virtual seats
The NBA has released a step-by-step guide to help you access your seats!
- Download the Microsoft Teams app and login with your username and password
- Click the calendar icon on the left-hand side of your screen
- Double-click on the game listed in the calendar (meeting will not be active till 60 minutes before tip-off)
- When you see the game invitation, click the purple Join button and wait for a moderator to let you in
- Ensure your camera and microphone are turned on
- Click the Participant List icon and then click on the participant labeled, 'Game Feed'.
- Right-click on the Game Feed and select Pin, which will lock the game feed in your view
- Right-click on the game feed and select Fit to Frame
- On the top bar, click the three dots and select Together Mode
- Now you will be able to see your fan section which will be displayed on the video boards and broadcast on TV
Famous faces in the crowd
It didn't take long for some famous faces to appear on the video boards as virtual fans, with rapper Lil' Wayne stopping by to catch the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Look who's here!- NBA (@NBA) August 5, 2020
🎤 @LilTunechi's courtside for @okcthunder/@Lakers on ESPN! #ULTRACourtside #WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/gcghDQUBy7
Meanwhile, two-time NBA champion Chris Bosh pulled up for the Lakers' opener against the LA Clippers.
Best seats in the house 🤣🤣 https://t.co/iSpkvQrIoS- Chris Bosh (@chrisbosh) July 31, 2020
Players' friends and family members have been able to show their support from home, with Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma's mother in attendance as he hit the game-winning shot against the Denver Nuggets in the seeding games.
@KarriKuzma @kylekuzma Kyle playing with Passion in front of Mama! KUUUUZ!!! #Lakers #KUUUZ #NBA pic.twitter.com/ZWvr7GvCUc- TheRealSignGuy (@TheRealSignGuy1) August 11, 2020
You could be next!
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