The NBA has had its operations fully suspended since mid-March. Now, the league will remain in limbo for the entirety of April.
Speaking with sportscaster Ernie Johnson, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver informed the public that he will not present any formal decisions regarding the season’s status until at least May. Silver noted that the country’s current battle with the coronavirus pandemic is nearing its worst stages this month and therefore turned the focus away from basketball.
“Essentially what I’ve told my folks over the last week is we should just accept that at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said in the video interview. “I don’t think that necessarily means that, on May 1, we will be [in that position], but at least I know that just to settle everyone down a little bit.”
Silver shut down the league on March 11 after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA was the first major sports league in the U.S. to halt operations with an initial suspension period set for 30 days. However, as the pandemic produces new developments daily, Silver admitted that he is less sure of how the season can continue now than when it was first suspended.
“I think if you and I on March 12 had been asked that same question, both of us would have said, ‘It’s hard to imagine that three-plus weeks later, we wouldn’t have a better understanding of where we are,'” he told Johnson. “The fact is now, sitting here today, I know less than I did then, and I think in some ways, just as I listen to the public health experts and the people advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we thought at that point, so maybe it will peak earlier. What that means, in terms of our ability to come back at some point, whether it be in late spring or early summer, is unknown to me.”
While the NBA Commissioner is keeping hush regarding the league’s definitive plan moving forward, various reports explore a wide number of options. Silver initially explored the possibility of waiting until fans could fill arenas again, beginning games earlier sans crowds, or bringing players together for exhibition-type events. Silver and other top officials had maintained their hope to complete as much of the regular season as possible before moving forward with playoffs. However, recent reports have suggested a revised playoff format in one location or possibly cancelling the season outright.
For the time being, Silver is focusing on the health of all involved before making any decisions on the status of the league. He joined other top executives from sports leagues around the country for a conference call with President Trump over the weekend, in which the president expressed his desire for sports’ timely return, including a scheduled September start for the NFL season.
“It wasn’t just a pep talk, but I think it was a reminder of what the meaning is of sports to Americans, to our culture in particular,” Silver said of the call. “And, in essence, what came back from all of the leagues collectively was, ‘Once we get the all clear, however that is determined, of course with public health officials by our government, federal and state, and it may vary from location to location, we’re going to be ready to go.’ But [the priority], first and foremost, is the health and safety of everyone involved.”