The NBA is considering an idea where some players would be quarantined or isolated in order to compete again.
The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said the idea is one of several items under consideration during the league-wide shutdown over the coronavirus pandemic. “Maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just for the collective good of the people,” Silver said in an interview with ESPN. “You take a subset of players and is there a protocol in which they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way … People are stuck at home. They need a diversion. They need to be entertained.”
Silver offered no predictions on when NBA games would resume. He said the league may resume games but without fans. That was a move the league was going to make last week before Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19 and prompted the league to go on a hiatus that looks likely to last several months.
Silver, as he often does, said he hopes the NBA can be a conduit to spark positive change in the country especially now when there will be a real need.
“One thing I’ll say about the United States … we’re an incredible country and some of the greatest inventions, some of the best innovations, some of the best minds are in this country,” Silver said. “And I’m sure as people are sitting home but still working they’re thinking of these various things like how can we restart the economy and what role can the NBA play?”
He added that some of the players were going “stir crazy” and acknowledged that many were aware they were losing a significant amount of time in what is a short career.
“I have heard from a lot of our players … they’re going stir-crazy, they want to play, they want to compete,” he said. “Players as you know, I mean, unlike a lot of us in our positions we can just go back to what we were doing, but every player is fighting something that’s unwinnable, and that’s the aging process. So a lost year or lost portion of a season in their careers is very different from other people, so we’re gonna try by every means we can to play basketball again, but I say that the safety and health of our players is first, and our fans, which is why I don’t want to speculate more on that”
Silver also said he doesn’t know when play can return. The NBA has said the shutdown will be at least 30 days, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has subsequently said it recommends no gatherings of more than 50 people take place before mid-May. “I don’t have a good enough sense of how long a period this is going to be,” Silver said.
So far the entire playing staff of eight teams have been tested for coronavirus. There has been criticism that the rich and famous have been able to easily access testing while the general public in the US has not. Silver defended that status. “People were not taking these protocols all that seriously until the NBA did what it did,” Silver said, adding that he had not been tested.