NBA Commish Warns Coronavirus May Still Derail 2020 Season

Adam Silver
Getty Images/Andy Lyons

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver noted on Tuesday that the spread of the coronavirus may pose too big a threat for the league to carry out its plans to resume the 2020 season.

With a “second wave” of coronavirus outbreaks befalling the United States, Silver says that their precautions and plans may not be enough to assure that their planned 2020 season is safe, though he is “pretty confident” that they have all their bases covered and will be able to play the season, ESPN reported.

Silver spoke to TIME 100 Talks about the league’s plans to beat the virus for 2020 with a shortened season starting at the end of July at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Silver warned that the virus prevents total surety and it is “Never full steam ahead no matter what.

“One thing we are learning about this virus is much [is] unpredictable, and we and our players together with their union look at the data on a daily basis,” he said. “If there were something to change that was outside of the scope of what we are playing for, certainly we would revisit our plans,” he said.

“We are testing daily. We haven’t put a precise number on it, but if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well,” he continued.

Because of that uncertainty, Silver did not really know what might shut down the league’s 2020 plans.

“We are going to see as we go,” Silver insisted. “Certainly if cases are isolated, that’s one thing. A lot of the determination will be our understanding of how our community became infected. That will be part of our judgment in terms of whether we should continue. But certainly if we had a lot of cases, we are going to stop. You cannot run from this virus.”

But he thinks the league’s plans are the best approach.

“I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus because there aren’t many situations that I am aware of where there is mass testing of asymptomatic employees,” Silver added of the NBA’s plan to resume play at Walt Disney World Resort. “In some ways, this is maybe a model for how other industries can ultimately open. But I am only going to say we will be responsible and watch what is happening, but the biggest indicator will be if we begin to see a spread in our community.

“I’m pretty confident, largely because we are playing on a campus that is confined in that the only way to gain access to that campus is to be part of our protocol where there is regular testing,” Silver said. “And if someone were to leave our campus, they would need to test and quarantine in order to return to play. So at least in terms of the model, we are protected from the rate of cases in the broader community.”

However, Silver did admit that the numbers growing in Florida are a bit alarming.

“I’ll say of course when we designed this plan, we were not seeing the kind of increases in cases, frankly not just in Florida and Texas but at least of the last few days, the majority of states in the United States are seeing increases in COVID cases,” he said. “… [But] our model was designed for this. Our model was designed to protect us and our players from the cases in the outside community. Maybe at the time we designed it, we didn’t think it would be as necessary as it is now, but at least we are preparing for it.”

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