It’s been reported that NBA owners view mid-late June as a best-case-scenario for a return to league action.
From all other reports, with the threat of the coronavirus spreading, the CDC has recommended no gathering of over 50 people for at least two months. So even if the NBA could figure out a way to resume action, there still might not be any fans allowed in the arenas.
Silver says he doesn’t know when the league will resume play, but there are three issues, he told Nichols, that have to be addressed before that happens.
The first Silver says is “when can we restart and operate as we’ve known it, with 19,000 fans in buildings?”
The second deciding factor is “How or should we consider restarting without fans,” Silver said, “and what would that mean?”
The NBA as we know it probably won’t show itself this season, but Silver says there are other ways to still bring the fans a product.
“Because presumably if you had a group of players and staff around them and you could test them and you could follow some protocol…” Silver added. “Doctors and health officials may say it’s safe to play. This option we are looking at now and all suggestions are welcome.”
One of Silver’s main concerns outside of containing the spread of the virus is the psychological effect having no sports will have on the world.
The impact on the national psyche of having no sports programming on television and one of the things we’ve been talking about is possibly conditions where a group of players can compete and maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just for the collective good of the people. That you take a subset of players and (find) some protocol where they can be tested and quarantined or isolated in some way and then they can compete against each other just because, again, people are stuck at home and I think they need a diversion and need to be entertained.
I’ll just add to that point… thoughts I’ve heard from several of our teams is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. In a sense, we were the first to shut our league down so in what way can we be the first, to help restore the economy. When you think about public health, shutting down the economy is a public health matter as well.
Just in the case of the NBA, when you include our workers in the arena, just them alone account for roughly 55,000 jobs.”
It’s clear that Silver is desperately trying to find some way to salvage the season or at least bring quarantined sports fans some basketball action to watch this season. He didn’t even want to address Nichols’ question about the possibility of losing the entire season, only saying, “We’re not there yet.”