As worries grow about the NBA’s ability to keep its players safe from the spread of the coronavirus during the scheduled truncated regular season conclusion and playoffs, league commissioner Adam Silver warned on Friday that a significant outbreak could lead to a stop in play.
Fears have been raised after a number of players tested positive for COVID-19 this week, ahead of when teams are set to return to training camp in preparation for the resumed season, which is scheduled to begin at the end of July. As Malika Andrews of ESPN reported on Twitter, the league’s commissioner warned that if a significant outbreak took place during the season, it could lead to another play stoppage. The NBA was the first major sports league to go on hiatus during the pandemic, abruptly halting games after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
Silver did not clarify what a significant outbreak would look like or whether the NBA would attempt to start the season again once the outbreak has passed. The league is currently set to complete the regular season and move into the playoffs, with all games taking place in Orlando, Florida.
Adam Silver says that if there is a “significant spread" of COVID-19 in the bubble, "that may lead us to stopping” play.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) June 26, 2020
Since the NBA announced plans to resume its season at Walt Disney World, there have been a number of questions about the ability to keep players safe in what is known as the “bubble.” As ESPN reported, the league has been planning to enact strict security to enforce health and safety protocol, including using state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies along with contracted security. They will serve to keep the “bubble” free from potential disruptions, the report noted.
“NBA locations in Orlando, Florida, also will have secured perimeters, technological security deployments and a ‘fusion center’ approach to threat intelligence,” the report noted. “In addition, league security will ensure all venues and team hotel campuses are closed to non-credentialed individuals. There will be secure checkpoints, credential control and roving security inside and outside the perimeter of every location in use.”
ESPN had already reported earlier this month that some players were worried about returning to play in a bubble, with some going so far as to opt out of returning. Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has announced he will not be joining his team in the Orlando bubble, citing family concerns. Reports indicated that his son has health conditions that would make him unlikely to be able to join his father inside the bubble.