Adam Silver reportedly says league/players must be comfortable with some positive tests in bubble
How much risk is acceptable?
It’s the question both the NBA and society as a whole are struggling to answer as steps are taken to reopen the economy. Or, in the case of the NBA, restart the season.
Last Friday, in a conference call with NBA players, Commissioner Adam Silver said there was no way he could fully guarantee the safety of players in a quarantined bubble. The league would do everything it could to keep players, coaches, staffs, families, and anyone else in the bubble healthy, but there will be risks.
Tuesday, in a generally optimistic call with owners about restarting the season, Silver said that everyone is going to have to accept there will be positive tests but that the league does not need to shut down again because of it. From Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
ESPN Sources: Attendees left Board of Governors call w/ Adam Silver today feeling positive about momentum toward an NBA return to play this season. Discussion included how league/players will need to get comfortable w/ some positive tests for virus not shutting down a resumption— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 13, 2020
Sources: In discussion with BOG/owners, Silver used the term "campus environment" when referencing what's been called a bubble. Call included significant detail on how other pro sports/leagues -- here and abroad -- are working toward their returns. https://t.co/eVIiZlVxeN— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 13, 2020
The NBA should be studying how other leagues are proceeding, particularly team sports. In Europe, the German Bundesliga soccer league will restart this weekend — despite positive coronavirus tests for two players for Dresden (a second-tier team) that forced that team to cancel games and quarantine players.
For the NBA, even in a “bubble” in Las Vegas and/or Orlando, there will be positive tests. It’s inevitable. What matters is how the NBA responds to the positive test, what protocols are in place to stop the spread. Silver has mentioned daily testing, from there quarantine anyone with a positive test, then do contact tracing for that person and test everyone he/she came in contact with, maybe quarantining those people for a period of time. It could force the NBA to modify it’s playoff schedule on the fly if a player tests positive (making teammates contacts to be monitored). Is that an acceptable level of risk?
As noted in Wojnarowski’s report, talk to people around the league and there is a growing sense the NBA will find a way to complete this season. The league’s elite players — LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, and more — all back the idea of finishing the season if there are proper safety precautions in place.
Those safety precautions are not 100% effective, however. There is risk.
How much risk the players and league are willing to accept is the question.