Above all, NBA players are humans, just like everyone else.
Prior to the suspension of play, these players interacted with hundreds if not thousands of people a day. These players have germs, just like everyone else.
And according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, players had the potential to be ‘super spreaders’ of COVID-19.
Wednesday, during a twenty-minute interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Silver spoke candidly about what the past week has been like since the NBA suspended the season following the league's first positive test of COVID-19. He also addressed what he thinks the future could hold for the NBA.
Silver discussed how New York City has been a hotbed of the virus, so he wasn’t surprised by the Brooklyn Nets having four players test positive.
“Especially in the New York area, if you took almost any random group of New Yorkers… it would be likely, increasingly likely, that they’re gonna be some positive tests,” Silver said.
Silver added, “on top of that, again this is what led to some of the testing in the league in the first place, you could put our players in a category that some would refer to as ‘super spreaders’ and that is -- they are young people who are working in close proximity to each other.
They are traveling at great frequency.
They are regularly in large groups, including the public, and for the young cohort, in particular, a large number of them are asymptomatic and if they do have symptoms they’re relatively mild and so what’s happening with that group is that group until really the government at all levels started to clamp down, I think because it wasn’t affecting them so much personally, they might not have understood, sort of, the magnitude of the crisis in our country.”
This crisis in our county, as prompted the NBA to have its players send out messages on social media to encourage fans to reduce coronavirus risk.
Players like Damian Lillard and Kevin Love have shared messages on Twitter sharing tips and showing their support during this difficult time.
As for the seven NBA players who have tested positive, two of the players have mild symptoms, while the other five are asymptomatic.
But, Silver also knows that because the healthy, young NBA players are not showing a lot of symptoms that could sway the younger generation into thinking that COVID-19 is not a big deal.
And that is the last thing Silver wants.
“When Donovon Mitchell -- people see him on TV or social media, he’s done public service announcements reminding people of the protocol -- when he says, ‘hey, I’m good, I’m healthy’ we have to be careful that other young people don’t see that and say, ‘hey, he tested positive it’s no big deal.’ What I have said directly to some of our players -- the issue is if you hug grandma, frankly, you could be putting her in jeopardy.”
“We’re learning more and more about COVID-19 all the time, Silver added. “But it’s particularly lethal for older people and people with underlying conditions, so I think that in the midst of this crisis, as I’ve said, I think there’s a particular role that the NBA can play in terms of getting the message out, especially to young people.”
As the NBA continues to get the word out about social distancing and other CDC protocols, the league will also continue to work closing with the public health officials to ensure what’s best for the NBA and its fans moving forward.
On Thursday, the league announced the closure of all team facilities, despite originally being open for individual workouts between players and coaches.
Measures may continue to become more extreme.
Late Thursday, reports surfaced that two Los Angeles Lakers players have now tested positive for the coronavirus, following announcements earlier in the day that three members of the Philadelphia 76ers and one member of the Denver Nuggets organization tested positive. And then, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart announced on social media that he had tested positive for COVID-19 as well.