Spread of ‘significant’ coronavirus could end NBA restart

In less than two weeks, NBA players will begin arriving in Orlando. On July 30, the regular season will resume for 22 teams willing to spend more than three months on the isolated campus surrounding Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

“We believe we have developed a safe and responsible way to restart the season,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a conference call on Friday. “We have no choice but to learn to live with this virus. There are no risk-free options at this time. We cannot sit on the sidelines indefinitely. We must adapt.

“We will return because sport is important in a society. They bring people together when we need it most. ”

However, Silver later acknowledged that the season that was suspended on March 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can never be completed.

“We have not worked in all scenarios … [but] if we had a significant spread of the coronavirus throughout the community, that could ultimately lead us to stop it, ”said Silver. “We are not saying at full blast, whatever happens … but now we feel very comfortable with where we are.”

Silver said the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases across the country has increased his “level of concern” and acknowledged it was a “fair question” if the NBA had chosen to restart its season in Florida, knowing the state would establish Multiple positive case records from a single day this week.

Adam Silver
Adam Silverfake pictures

“Of course, we designed our campus, in essence, to isolate ourselves from the levels in the surrounding community,” said Silver. “It’s on the rise in most states right now and our bottom line was that we can’t escape the virus, so we designed the campus the way we did.” It is a closed network. Although it is not waterproof, at least we are protected from what surrounds us. ”

At least initially, players will be evaluated daily and will be required to wear skins when not playing. There will also be an established medical clinic on campus.

In the first wave of mandatory testing this week, the NBA said 16 players out of 302 tested positive for the coronavirus. Any player who tests positive on campus will be forced to quarantine, while the game will continue for those who test negative. No player is contractually obligated to return to action, although absent players will lose wages for lost games.

“We understand the risks involved, but everyone is ready to make a sacrifice,” said Andre Iguodala, NBPA’s first vice president. “A lot of people in the United States don’t have a job right now.”

After the murder of George Floyd and the countless protests across the country fighting racial injustice, Nets guard Kyrie Irving found the support of some players, who also believe that games should not continue and be distracted from the “Black” movement. Lives Matter. “

Ultimately, though, most players believe a bigger impact can be achieved with millions of eyes looking at the expected return of the league.

“We have agreed on a number of initiatives for social justice,” said NBPA President Chris Paul. “I’m excited for what we can do that is so much bigger than the game. … It is not a situation of silence and dribbling. You will continue to hear from us. ”