Despite what Adam Silver, the N.B.A. Commissioner, described as “heightened” concern about a significant increase in coronavirus cases in Florida, advanced the league on several fronts on Friday by pushing her plans to restart the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World nearby formalized by Orlando.
The league and the National Basketball Players Association jointly announced that they had officially completed their season resurgence agreement with 22 teams next month, and the N.B.A. was set to reveal the 88-game schedule that will go into the playoffs later on Friday.
The league and union also announced that out of 302 players tested by their teams on Tuesday, 16 were positive for the corona virus. During a Friday afternoon conference call with reporters, Silver said the two organizations “ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than outside.”
“My final conclusion is that we cannot escape the virus and that we will live with it for the foreseeable future, so we designed the campus the way we did,” said Silver. “Although it is not impermeable, we are essentially protected from cases around us – at least this is the model. For these reasons, we still feel very comfortable in Orlando.”
hours later Florida announced a daily record Of nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in the state, compared to 5,511 on Wednesday, Silver said the league “has no choice but to learn to live with this virus” and that there are currently no risk-free options to restart the season. ”
Any player who has tested positive this week must remain isolated until they record two consecutive negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart. Michele Roberts, executive director of N.B.P.A., said of the positive results that “should have been feared”, but she also expressed her relief that there were no more cases among the players.
“I’ve held my breath in the past few weeks,” said Roberts.
Silver said: “None of the 16 was seriously ill in any way and was a great relief for us.”
Players who test positive must also undergo cardiac screening and approval from a doctor before resuming basketball activities the 113 pages of the health and safety protocols of the N.B.A. Regulation of the planned restart.
Indiana Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon and Sacramento Kings players Jabari Parker and Alex Len announced this week they were among the 16 positive tests. Other players that have been tested positively by various news media are Sacramentos Buddy Hield (as reported by The Athletic), Miami Derrick Jones Jr. (The Miami Herald) and two nameless members of the Phoenix Suns (The Republic of Arizona).
Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets stayed in his native Serbia this week instead of coming back into the team after he also tested positive. However, Jokic wasn’t among the 302 players tested this week. These included only players from the 22 teams involved in restarting the season that are currently available for testing in their home markets.
Silver acknowledged that once teams were on campus in Florida, “significant spread” of the corona virus “could cause us to stop.” But Silver said they had not yet determined what a “significant spread” would be.
The 22 teams participating in the restart of the N.B.A. should register with the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World from July 7th. Until then, the players’ tests should continue every other day until the teams leave for Florida. One reason why teams spend two weeks in their home markets is to help identify coronavirus cases and isolate these players before all 22 teams meet.
Defending champion Toronto Raptors is already in Florida and is training at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers to avoid travel restrictions when crossing the U.S.-Canada border.
As N.B.A. Florida released its first test results on Friday, reporting 1,051 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in Orange County, home of Disney World. Coronavirus cases have been reported in Florida since the N.B.A. and the players’ association ratified the Disney complex return plan on June 4 and 5.
The positive test rate of the N.B.A. Tuesday was 5.3 percent, but the league announced no results for coaches and teammates who were being tested. The teams may bring up to 17 players to Disney World in tour groups with a maximum of 37 people. Quarantine must be 36 to 48 hours upon arrival until two consecutive negative tests are recorded. According to Silver, the tests are then planned daily.
Aside from health concerns, Chris Paul from Oklahoma City, the N.B.P.A. President expressed his confidence in the league’s promise to support players in their efforts to advance the Black Lives Matter movement as the game restarts.
“We all understand how powerful our voice is,” said Paul. “It’s never a situation where you shut up and dribble.” You will continue to hear and see us. “
Silver said the N.B.A. “Possibly the most uniquely qualified organization in the world to bring about change” in search of social justice and racial equality as some of the league’s players, including Paul, are among the country’s most famous black figures.
Still, the league, its players, and key media partners like Disney have significant financial motivation to get the game back on the pitch this season and beyond.
Silver admitted that the league’s return, “especially given the growing coronavirus crisis in Florida, was” definitely not as usual “. Nevertheless, he insisted that the N.B.A. “Must adapt” and would try to show the public “how we can reconcile public health and economic need”.
“We cannot sit on the sidelines indefinitely,” said Silver.