NBA commissioner Adam Silver is confident that the league’s safety plan will work in Orlando

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from Inquirer Sports

The NBA may be set to resume late this month but that doesn’t mean coronavirus cases around the league have subsided. The Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, LA Clippers and Brooklyn Nets all have reportedly shut down their training facilities after receiving positive coronavirus test results. 

The league’s health and safety guidelines policy states that if a player currently has coronavirus, he must be in isolation and tested negative twice to be able to play in Orlando—where the season is set to restart on July 30. The Bucks, who had the best league record this season, plan to keep their facility closed until Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team make their way to Florida. 

The NBA also came up with a set of rules and guidelines to address growing concerns around the league. One of the rules is allowing players or coaches to decide whether they want to participate in Orlando or not, given that health concerns and the Black Lives Matter movement remain two top priorities of these sports personalities. 

One player yet to decide is Clippers’ guard Lou Williams, who made it clear that resuming basketball right now is merely a distraction to the Black Lives Matter movement that NBA players currently support. 

“I got a lot of flak, and other guys are getting flak for saying, well, you know, maybe we shouldn’t play. Because the reality is this: We have millions of people in the streets protesting. This the first time in history all 50 states have had people outside protesting for one cause. We don’t want to be a distraction. We want to be an added help to the cause,” Williams told ESPN. 

But the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) (the labor union that represents NBA players) has also come up with ways for the NBA to address social justice and police brutality. NBPA President and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul believes that players can make their voices heard loud and clear while playing in the world’s most popular basketball league. “Just know that. It’s never a ‘shut up and dribble’ situation,says Paul.

“We stopped playing basketball because of COVID. We didn’t stop playing because of social justice. I feel like we can still raise that awareness and we can still bring attention to what is going on in the world by using our platform and utilizing names on the back of our jerseys,”says Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal.

As of writing, Florida currently has 200,111 coronavirus cases (both residents and non-residents). Despite the growing number of positive cases not just in the league but also in Florida, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is confident that the league’s safety plan (aka Disney bubble) will work in Orlando. The commissioner mentioned that the NBA could be halted once again if the virus continues to spread among players and staff. 

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who’s been an advocate of starting the season,  also believes that the league’s new plans and safety guidelines are actually safer for everyone involved. Since players and staff are kept in a Disney bubble in Orlando, Cuban says that there’s a good chance to limit the spread of the virus.  The NBA bubble is a logistical strategy to make sure that players and staff are kept safe against the virus spreading in Orlando.

“There’s obviously risk, but each and every day, the science improves and the medical response has gotten smarter. Look, the number of cases [in Florida] just goes to show you that you need to be quarantined, you need to be safe, you need to be diligent, we need to wear our masks and to take the necessary precautions, and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” says Cuban. 

“If the general population in all of these cities, including Dallas, had followed those same precautions and hadn’t gotten overly confident that this was behind us, we wouldn’t be experiencing what we are today. So I think the bubble will actually make our players safer.”