Speaking to reporters on a virtual news conference, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league’s “bubble” plan was the best option available.
Silver admitted that the league’s level of concern has increased regarding the spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, but it’s inevitable that we will live with the virus.
“No options are risk-free right now,” Silver said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “My ultimate conclusion is that we can’t outrun the virus, and that this is what we’re gonna be living with for the foreseeable future — which is why we designed the campus the way we did. And so it’s a closed network; and while it’s not impermeable, we are in essence protected from cases around us. At least, that’s the model.”
While players will be staying in the “campus environment,” Disney staff members will be permitted to come and go and could bring the virus in with them.
The NBA is reportedly considering extra precautions to protect its players and staffers, including increased testing for Disney employees who are in the same room as players.
If some players did test positive, the NBA would proceed with the season, but that could change if there was an outbreak within the Disney campus.
“If we were to have significant spread of coronavirus through our community, that ultimately might lead us to stopping,” Silver said. “But we’re working closely with the Players’ Association, with Disney and with public health officials in Florida as to what that line should be. And it hasn’t been precisely designed.”
Silver was asked what the NBA would do in a scenario where a star player tested positive, which would essentially rule them out for a round of the playoffs.
“We haven’t worked through every scenario,” Silver said. “But the notion would be that if we had a single player test positive, frankly, whether that player was an All-Star or a journeyman, that player would then go into quarantine. We would then be tracking any players or other personnel that that player had been in contact with, and even potentially supplement the daily testing just to ensure that others have not been contaminated.”
Silver continued, “That team would be down a man, and we would treat that positive test as we would an injury during the season. And so we would not delay the continuation of the playoffs.”
However, he did acknowledge that a severe outbreak heavily impacting a team could change that approach.
The NBA restart in Orlando is a unique situation that will be taken day-by-day once it finally begins.