Last week, Gildshire spelled out the options and challenges faced by Major League Baseball in its efforts to return to play. The National Basketball Association season has a month, or so, of games left. Let’s look into the NBA’s plans with an NBA Q&A.
An NBA Q&A? Let’s start with when the games will begin again.
First of all, NBA games will return in mid-summer. Fans will not be allowed in the building, and the teams will be kept in what is being described as “a campus setting” within the Disney World complex.
Do NBA players support the return? How About the NBA owners?
An overwhelming majority of the players support returning to play. Many headliners, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard participated in a conference call that established their desire to return to play.
How About the NBA owners?
They unanimously want the season to return, but what other choice do they have? Their organizations are taking a big hit in the pocketbook.
To be sure, the owners of teams not in playoff contention question the wisdom of bearing the expense of sending teams to a bubble location for meaningless regular-season games. However, if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver asks them to field a team, they will comply.
How often could teams play?
The season should begin in late July, but guessing the timing is problematic. Much will depend on the coronavirus and the status of available rapid testing. The frequency of games is also not fully decided.
How can I watch it?
The playoffs will be broadcast on ESPN and TNT, as usual. Regional sports networks would show any regular-season games. The NBA will bring out any and all bells and whistles to compensate for empty seats.
Safety protocols? Will there be adequate testing?
League executives don’t want to say this out loud. It is all about est kits availability. Anyone entering the bubble will be tested, and Silver said he wants daily testing for players and team staff in the facility. There will be extensive testing of anyone in regular contact with players, for example, broadcast and hotel staff. Frequent, spot temperature checks are also part of the NBA’s protocol for a return to play.
For all of these aggressive protocols, there is one concern. It will look bad if 15,000 tests are administered to NBA players when the general public can’t find even one.
What happens if/when a player tests positive?
The player would go into quarantine immediately. Tracing of everyone that player was in contact within recent days would commence. The player’s team might not play games for several days or even a week.
But, the play would not stop. A player who tests positive would be on a weekly “injury report,” but the games must continue.
What is an acceptable level of risk?
That’s the question the whole of society must answer as we try to, slowly, come out of this virus-closet. As a nation, we seem to have come to grips with the idea that there will be spikes in the COVID-19 cases as we open our doors. But, large spikes as a result of pro sports cannot be tolerated. An NBA Q&A can’t find any sentiment for that.