Despite the uncertainty that loomed before the NBA began its venture to restart the 2019-20 season, the resumption of the campaign within the league’s Orlando, Florida, bubble campus has proven successful so far. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix that was published on Thursday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appraised the operation as functioning even better than he had expected it would.
“It’s better than what we had envisioned. Players have taken to it in a more spirited way than we thought they would,” said Silver. “We knew that this would require enormous sacrifice on everyone’s part, but I think that what is hard to calibrate—and this maybe goes to my experience when I first came into the arena—is the human emotion that comes with being around other people. And I think everyone realized they missed it more than they even understood.”
Silver went on to share that people from teams that are not participating in the restart, or who have otherwise opted out due to injury or other issues, have inquired about joining in on the experience after speaking with those who are participating.
After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for coronavirus infection in March, the organization opted to suspend play for four months. It eventually made its return in late July with 22 playoff-contending teams traveling to the league’s campus at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World to live and compete. According to Silver, his confidence in the resumption of play “ebbed and flowed” as the return plan was formulated and executed.
Nevertheless, the endeavor has largely been incident-free so far.
On Wednesday, the league and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced via Twitter that none of the 342 players tested for COVID-19 in the last week had a positive test result. It was the fourth straight week that all player tests have come back clean. Still, Silver maintained that testing has perhaps been his biggest point of issue. Although testing protocols have been successfully implemented, he remains concerned about the possibility of false-positive and false-negative results.
While Silver continues to look at the big picture with regard to the continuing season amid the pandemic — as well as Black Lives Matters protests that continue to happen around the U.S. — he’s also engaged with his employees on an individual level. He has made himself accessible to players who have concerns about bubble life, in spite of the fact that a hotline has been created specifically for that purpose.