Updated: 6:05 p.m.
CAMDEN, N.J. — Instead of being surrounded by a tightly packed scrum of reporters, head coach Brett Brown and a series of Sixers players fielded questions in a lobby at the team’s practice facility Tuesday, with a table between them and the assembled media. Hand sanitizer was available for all to use.
The coronavirus outbreak is a worldwide concern, and the NBA is not excluded.
“It’s definitely been different, dealing with all this,” Al Horford said. “Puts a lot of things in perspective. Makes you aware of making sure you’re taking care of yourself and trying to do better for the people around you. It has been stressful at times.”
What might be next for the NBA?
With the first case of coronavirus confirmed in Philadelphia, city officials are recommending residents do not attend public gatherings of over 5,000 people. The Sixers are scheduled to play the Pistons on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
A team official told NBC Sports Philadelphia that the Sixers are aware of the recommendation and plan to play the game as scheduled. The official emphasized that the recommendation is not a mandate and said the team would continue to work in coordination with the NBA and the Wells Fargo Center. Any refund requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis, per the official.
The NBA reportedly told teams last week to prepare for games without fans in attendance.
“It would be obviously a rough situation and not ideal by any stretch of the imagination,” Brown said of that possibility. “If the people in the know felt like that was what was needed to provide the greatest level of safety, then that's what we will do. We all obviously hope it doesn't get to that stage.”
Josh Richardson, who cleared concussion protocol and practiced Tuesday after missing the past three games, called the situation “scary.”
“I’m praying for the victims of it, hoping for the best for those who have been affected, directly and indirectly,” Richardson said. “That’s all I can really say about it. Just try to stay safe.”
The Sixers have been briefed internally on how to handle the coronavirus.
“We’ve had multiple meetings,” Shake Milton said. “People spoke to us and they [said] just basically the same things you would see anywhere else — washing your hands, don’t give high-fives, just stay on top of sanitary stuff.”
Playing in empty arenas would clearly be a fundamental change to the NBA season.
“That would definitely be weird,” Milton said. “Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point — everybody likes playing in front of their fans. But I don’t know, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Pickup? I don’t know.”
Richardson had the same thought.
“That’s an interesting dynamic,” he said. “It would be very weird for a lot of people, because we’re used to fans and packed stadiums. But I guess it would be like a pickup game at that point.”
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