The NBA was the first major sports league to suspend its season upon the early spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Now, it might be the first league to call off the season entirely.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the optimism league officials went into hiatus with is beginning to fade. The prospect of cancelling the remainder of the season is reportedly league officials’ current topic of discussion as the country braces for outbreak peaks in the coming weeks.
“There’s still hope around the league and there’s a tremendous amount of planning and contingencies and brain-storming going on with the league office, with teams, executives, sports science, medical staffs for the league and for teams, as well as the Players Association,” Wojnarowksi shared on SportsCenter Sunday.
“But there’s also a level of realism that is starting to sink in it, that it’s going to be difficult to return to play this season, that a runway for how many days it would actually have to be able to have a representative rest of the season, a few regular-season games at minimum and then a playoffs that would crown a legitimate champion, that would have a playoff structure, that would be enough to have someone to wear that crown and do it without an asterisk, that’s the challenge around the league right now. And they know they’re up against it, they’re up against the clock and there’s certainly a lot of concern about whether this league will be able to return to play or not,” he added.
Over the last few weeks, various reports have surfaced about what would come of the season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver revealed the league’s three main options initially were to wait until large gatherings were safe to resume play with fans, resume earlier without fans, or put on some sort of exhibition program while competitive sports remain on hold. Others, like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, leaned toward returning without fans and monitoring temperatures of those attending early games.
Doubts over the season’s completion comes following a weekend conference call between President Trump and various commissioners and executives of the country’s major sports leagues. The president shared his belief that the NFL season should be able to start on time in September and his desire for sports fans to fill arenas shortly. However, ESPN sources report that Silver’s takeaway message from the call was to only resume NBA operations once fully cleared to do so by public health experts.