SAN FRANCISCO – As the global outbreak of deadly coronavirus wreaks havoc on the health of thousands and disrupts the lifestyle of billions, the NBA continues to grapple with an appropriate response.
The prospect of empty arenas remains under consideration.
“It would be different,” Marquese Chriss said Tuesday after shootaround. “At the end of the day, we still have to go do our jobs. But it would definitely feel like an open scrimmage.”
The first substantive move, announced Monday, is that NBA locker rooms -- as well as similar spaces in MLB, NHL and MLS -- would temporarily be off-limits to all non-essential personnel, including media.
The Warriors on Tuesday, after their morning shootaround, had their first experience with the new policy. Rather than have players sit in a chair, inches away from reporters, the Warriors directed Chriss, and then Mychal Mulder, to a podium allowing at least six feet of separation.
The same will apply to all coaches and players engaging with media.
“I don’t think we’re thinking about it too much, basketball-wise,” Chriss said. “It’s more about our health. Just trying to stay clean. Fist-bump. Do as much as we can to limit accidentally spreading bacteria and things like that.
“We’ve been educated on what we need to do, which is washing our hands and keeping our bodily fluids to ourselves, which is hard when you sweat. We’re just trying our best to limit that.”
The global death toll surpassed 4,000 early Tuesday. The U.S. toll was at 29 but is rising, with no end in sight.
The topic is engaging deep and ongoing discussion. Santa Clara County, among the hardest-hit regions in the country, announced Monday that it is banning all public gatherings of 1,000 or more people, clearly impacting the Sharks.
Certain states, like Ohio, are imposing rigid restrictions on indoor sporting events, including the exclusion of fans. The city of Philadelphia is advising to avoid large public gatherings.
The NBA has not taken such strong steps. Not yet. But in the wake of NBA trainers participating in a conference call Monday and CEOs and general managers scheduled to do the same Tuesday, it remains a possibility.