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Mark Cuban: ‘If things really go our way’ NBA could return in early June

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks reacts prior to the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on December 20, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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Mark Cuban is an optimist.

He speaks for all of us in his desire to see the NBA back on the court. At one point he predicted the NBA could be playing by May, but had to back off that dream.

Now Cuban is saying we could see games in June if things break the right way for the league.

Cuban went on 97.3 The Fan in Pittsburgh and said he believed science could get the league playing — without fans, but playing — by June.

“If things really go our way, it’s not inconceivable to me — and this is me being hopeful and not being scientific — that we could potentially play games in early June...

“I think we’re coming back. I can’t tell you exactly when, but this is purely a science and doctors thing. My attitude always is it’s not about if the glass is half empty or half full, it’s who’s pouring the water. In this particular case, it’s the scientists pouring the water. All I know from all the science and everything that I’m reading, I think we’re making enough advances that several of them will come through so we can start planning what a comeback would look like.

“I’m a big believer in American exceptionalism, and everything I’m starting to hear in terms of the science is coming along and the medical advances that we’re making to fight this thing makes me very positive. If I had to bet, and this is more a guess than a bet, I’d say early June is when you see teams start to take the field and maybe play games just for television.”

Any return in June (or, very likely, July or August) would have NBA games being played without fans in a single location, a “bubble” in Las Vegas or some other destination. The NBA is planning for that scenario, but the logistics of pulling it off are daunting. Cuban is right that it would take science to come through, a rapid and very accurate coronavirus test would need to be widely available — to the point a couple thousand could be used to play basketball games without taking them away from people showing symptoms who need to be tested — to even seriously consider a return. The NBA and its players’ union are looking into those tests, but as a nation we have a ways to go to reach that place.

There are signs that in some of the hardest-hit parts of the nation the curve is starting to flatten out, but the United States still has more than 450,000 cases and 16,000 deaths due to the virus. Those numbers undercount the real figures due to a lack of testing, plus some areas just now starting to be hit by COVID-19.

Cuban is being optimistic that we will see basketball games in June. Right now that feels like a longshot, but we all hope he’s right.