Endless questions surround the sports world as top leagues remain suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is now trying to come up with multiple answers regarding how and when the season will resume.
Silver laid out three distinct scenarios for how the NBA could make a return in a SportsCenter interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
“One is, when can we restart and operate as we’ve known it with 19,000 fans in buildings?” he told Nichols. “Option two is, should we consider restarting without fans, and what would that mean? Because, presumably, if we had a group of players, and staff around them, and you could test them and follow some sort of protocol, doctors and health officials may say it’s safe to play.”
Those scenarios have been of popular discussion, with fans eager to return to arenas for games as the season winds down but safety remaining the focus. Prior to the league’s suspension, teams like the Golden State Warriors had planned on taking the court without any fans in attendance to curb the virus’ spread.
“A third option that we are looking at now … the impact on the national psyche of having no sports programming on television,” Silver shared. “And one of the things we’ve been talking about are, are there conditions in which a group of players could compete — maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just the collective good of the people — where you take a subset of players and, is there a protocol where they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another?”
The NBA was the first major sports league to come to a complete halt after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus shortly before the Jazz were scheduled to play the Thunder. Six other players – including Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant – have since tested positive as well.
NBA games have been suspended for a tentative timeline of at least 30 days. However, a new recommendation from the CDC suggests that public gatherings of more than 50 people be restricted through mid-May, which the MLB is following in deciding its schedule. While uncertainty lies ahead, Silver is not yet thinking about cancelling the remainder of the season in its entirety – a move that could wind up costing the NBA $500 million in lost ticket revenue.
“I’m optimistic by nature, and I want to believe that we’re going to be able to salvage at least some portions of this season,” the commissioner said.