The NBA did arguably the best job of the four major U.S. sports leagues in their first go-around by playing the rest of the 2019-20 season in a bubble in Orlando. Their second attempt, now outside of a bubble, has been anything but smooth. That is despite having far fewer players to monitor than the other leagues.
The Wizards have unfortunately been at the forefront of it all with a COVID-19 outbreak that has left nine players in league protocol and six with confirmed cases of the virus. Though the league has good reasoning for not doing a bubble again - it was emotionally and mentally draining on the players - they are off to a very rocky start trying to pull off having teams play in their own cities.
The Wizards, though, remain confident in the league's plan moving forward. When asked if the NBA can do this outside of a bubble, head coach Scott Brooks says he believes they can.
"Yeah. We still trust in the NBA and the medical, the science and everything behind it. They're gonna put us in the best position as possible," Brooks said.
"We knew going into it there's going to be some bumps in the road. We've gotta keep navigating. It's definitely been some difficult days for us, but we're gonna have to continue to work together and move on."
The Wizards have already had four games postponed due to their outbreak and that only came after a series of close calls where opponents they just played had positive cases reported. Their situation, grouped in with smaller outbreaks on other teams, have left many wondering if the league should at the very least pause games to get things under control.
"That's a great question for the league," general manager Tommy Sheppard said. "We're going to support [any decision]. Players all across the league have voted to continue to play. I think the league has the best perspective on what's best for all the teams."
Sheppard said the league is going to continue making adjustments to their COVID-19 protocol as more is learned about the virus. He suggested changes could be made to testing to uncover potential cases sooner. But, as he also pointed out, the league is also having to monitor new strains of the virus emerging around the globe.
The consensus from the Wizards seems to be that, although they have been affected most directly, they knew outbreaks would happen at some point, it just happened to be them. They also believe commissioner Adam Silver and his staff deserve some benefit of the doubt given how closely they are following the science and perhaps also because of their track record of success in the late summer and fall.
It is proving to not be an easy venture playing basketball amid a pandemic, particularly with something as contagious as the coronavirus, which is currently spreading at record rates. But the league is going to keep pushing forward, hoping to avoid catastrophes just like the Wizards are going through.
"Our full trust is in the league to keep guiding us to get as healthy as possible and continue to do the very best for everybody; for the players, for the staff and for everybody's families, quite frankly," Sheppard said.