“Large” Coronavirus Spread Could End NBA Restart

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In less than two weeks, NBA players will start arriving in Orlando. On July 30, the regular season will resume for 22 teams ready 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,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Friday. “We have no choice but to learn to live with this virus. No option is without risk at this time. We cannot sit on the sidelines indefinitely. We have to adapt.

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

However, Silver later admitted that the season that was suspended on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic may never be over.

“We didn’t work on all the scenarios … [but] if we were to have a significant spread of the coronavirus throughout the community, this could ultimately lead us to stop it, “said Silver. “We don’t rush to say whatever happens … but we feel very comfortable right now with where we are. ”

Silver said the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases across the country had increased his “level of concern” and acknowledged that it was a “fair question” if the NBA chose to restart his season in Florida, knowing the state would establish several one-day positive case records this week.

Adam Silver
Adam SilverGetty Images

“Of course, we designed our campus, basically, to isolate us from all levels of the surrounding community,” said Silver. “It is increasing in the majority of states right now and our bottom line is that we cannot get past the virus, which is why we designed the campus the way we did. It’s a closed network. Although it is not waterproof, we are at least protected from what surrounds us. ”

At least initially, players will be tested daily and will be required to wear masks when not playing. There will also be a medical clinic installed on campus.

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

“We understand the risks involved, but everyone is ready to make a sacrifice,” said Andre Iguodala, executive vice president of the NBPA. “Many people in America are not employed at the moment. ”

After the murder of George Floyd and the countless nationwide protests against racial injustice, Nets guard Kyrie Irving has found support from some players, who also believe the matches should not continue and distract from the movement ” Black Lives Matter ”.

In the end, however, most players believed that a greater impact could be made with millions of eyes watching the highly anticipated return to the league.

“We have agreed to a number of social justice initiatives,” said NBPA president Chris Paul. “I am delighted to see what we can do which is much more important than the game. … It is not a closure and dribbling situation. You will continue to hear us. “

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