VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The NBA has become the latest of the four major pro sports leagues to agree upon a plan for a safe return to play this summer.
Under a proposal that was approved nearly unanimously by the NBA’s board of governors, the league would send 22 teams to Disney World in Florida to complete the 2019-20 season. Under the format, eight regular season games would be completed by each team as a lead up to the NBA playoffs, which would run as normal. A tentative start date of July 31st has been set.
There are concerns.
The NBA has reportedly come up with extensive plans for testing and medical safety of the players and staff and details of those plans are expected to be released in the coming days.
Vancouver’s Doug Eberhardt is an NBA skills development coach. He had to be quarantined back in mid-March as the NBA shut things down after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
“For the players being young and in superior condition, the fear [of the virus] isn’t so much their own physical being, as much as it is the potential to spread it to others. The fear [of COVID-19] is always going to be a part of it.” Eberhardt says.
The NBA will be reducing their travelling parties when the time comes, limiting the number of staff that travel with the team.
Eberhardt says that things could have a bit of a different feel than a typical pro sporting event as teams do typically employ and send any number of secondary coaches, trainers, and medical staff.
“The games will be centrally produced and I would guess at this point that TV crews would not be broadcasting from the site.” Eberhardt added.
Testing and safety is the greatest concern for returning to action for any league in any part of the world, and though there won’t be details released on that right away, it sounds like the NBA has a plan in place.
“The league is not expected to stop play because of a single positive test,” Eberhardt says.
“The NBA would look at isolating that person, continuing to monitor both that player and their colleagues. An outbreak within a team though, would be problematic, and obviously they would have to re-evaluate if that happened.”
Many players have expressed their desire to get back to playing. NBA Comissioner Adam Silver is expected to speak about health protocols and safety plans next week.