After the Utah jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the new coronavirus, the NBA became the first major North American sports league to suspend play.
A total of seven positive COVID-19 player-related tests have been reported since then, and what comes next is far from certain as the league tries to determine if, how and when play can resume.
“When people claim they can predict the future, they’re usually wrong,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver during a interview with Rachel Nichols from ESPN. “I would say look no further than the fact that certainly two weeks ago, and even a week ago, people were saying things very different from what they are today.”
In an ever-changing landscape like this pandemic, all options on what could follow are being considered, according to Silver, including the long-term goal of resuming activities as usual, whether or not there is a safe way to resume play. without fans present, and even a unique game for charity – if sufficient measures could be put in place to ensure its safety.
“Are there conditions under which a group of players can compete,” said Silver. “Maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser, or just for the collective good of people, that you take a subset of players, and is there a protocol in which they can be tested and quarantined or somehow isolated, then they can compete with one another. “
Just because, again, people are stuck at home and I think they need a diversion, they have to be entertained. And just to add to that, one of the things I’ve heard from many of our teams – and something I’ve thought about a lot – is that we were the first to close our league, how can we be a forerunner to help restart the economy? “
For a single game or NBA action without supporters in the stands, Silver said the priority was the health and well-being of those involved and the community at large. Part of the greater welfare of the community, however, he said, is to recognize the place of the NBA – both financially and by filling the void left by the lack of live sporting events.
“Just in the case of the NBA, when you include our gaming workers day in our arenas, only the NBA represents 55,000 jobs,” said Silver. “So I think we all have to think collectively [about] what is the right balance, and I know of course it is the duty of government officials: when will it be ok to come back from home and say it is time to reconnect with each other . ”
“When I look at the options, maybe we can do it gradually. The first step is not to play with thousands of people in the arenas, but maybe these are just games. ”