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The Questions Surrounding the NBA’s Restart

Written by: Jack Noveck Holmes

After nearly 3 months of what seemed to be ceaseless uncertainty, basketball fans have rejoiced at the news of the NBA’s resumption of play. Adam Silver’s proposal, which has yet to be publicly revealed in all its’ detail, was voted on by the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday. It is expected that the proposal will be approved.

Here’s what we can expect from the “bubble” restart based on what’s been made public so far:

The NBA is targeting July 31st as a return date, with plenty of planning and organizing to work through until then. The league has been working with the Walt Disney Company to organize for play to resume at their ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The complex has three different arenas where games could be held, and players would be housed in Walt Disney World hotel rooms. It isn’t likely that all 30 teams will be invited to Orlando: One scenario that is growing in popularity would see 22 teams invited, with 6 of them playing regular season “play-in” games for a playoff berth.

As preliminary as this information may be, it has still served as a much needed breath of fresh air for NBA fans who once thought they’d never see the season’s end. However, there’s still much to be considered before players can hit the hardwood once again.

Adam Silver has made it clear that one positive test wouldn’t deter the league’s plans for a restart, but a far different scenario presents itself if a large number of personnel from one team tests positive. The league must be prepared to forfeit teams from play if they’re overrun with the virus.

Coronavirus has already left its mark on the NBA -- Kevin Durant, Marcus Smart and Rudy Gobert are just a select few of the league’s big names to test positive for the respiratory illness that’s brought the world to its’ knees. All young and healthy, these players recovered swiftly. But what about those within the league to whom the virus poses a greater risk? Though all who enter the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” will be previously tested for the virus, it’s been proven that not all tests are accurate. This presents a great deal of worry to many.

Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. has often been open about his journey with Crohn’s disease. He’s been able to play through the disease because of the medicine he takes. However, the medicine suppresses his immune system, which puts him at risk of becoming severely ill if he were to contract the coronavirus. Nance is one of a few players who have been vocal about this potential risk. Joe Ingles, a forward on the Utah Jazz, has a son that is immunocompromised. Ingles too spoke about the potential risk the virus poses to him and his family, saying that he would give up the game completely to protect his son.

The league must prepare for the possibility of players like Nance and Ingles opting out of the restart, and it must determine what that would mean for their teams. Coaches and other personnel should be of significant focus as well -- people like Gregg Popovich and Alvin Gentry, who are both over 65, would need to put themselves at risk to serve their teams (the two have both said they are committed to coaching their teams under the current circumstances). In a pandemic like this, even despite mass testing, some just aren’t willing to take the risk.

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