The Covid-19 pandemic sabotaged all sporting activities across the globe with major leagues and tournaments halting on its account. The NBA is no exception; the 2019-20 season had to be called off for the safety of players, fans, and other stakeholders. Two months later, it is not yet clear when the league will resume.
The safety of the NBA stakeholders remains the top priority for the league’s administration. However, there is still hope that the league might resume soon. The league is losing billions in terms of revenue, and this could lead to unappealing financial repercussions in the future. According to specialized sources it seems that team practice sessions (at least for the time being) will be very different.
According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, all of the stakeholders are exploring the most appropriate options for bringing back the league. While he acknowledges that this pandemic remains the league’s single most significant challenge, he stresses hope of a resumption.
Silver warns that no matter what procedure the league adopts to restart, there will still be risks. The virus is bound to stick around for awhile, and hence, the sporting experience will not be as it used to be.
The resumption hype has, however, yielded mixed reaction from the basketball community. Not everyone seems to be buying the idea of resuming soon while the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the United States.
Even in the players’ camp, there are disagreements on the idea of going back for practice. Net’s Kyrie Irving and Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul have proclaimed the presence of apprehension concerning resumption.
Michele Roberts, however, establishes that players with genuine safety concerns will not be forced back for practice. The union, through Silver, acknowledges the risks presented by the whole idea of returning as long as the medical fraternity doesn’t have an effective vaccine. As such, players will not be forced back, not even by their team owners.
Should the league resume, unwarranted unappealing cases are a ship in the offing. Say, for instance, in case a single play falls victim of the virus, will other members of the team have the confidence to keep going?
What if the star player gets the virus in the middle of the playoffs? What if the coach becomes a victim? Such are the concerns resumption is bound to bring forth. There is also the idea of resuming the league without fans in a bid to reduce risks of infection.
The German Bundesliga has already restarted their soccer league with no fans, and it is assumed the NBA could adopt a similar approach.
However, this comes with hurting financial consequences.
According to Mr Silver, fans account for about 40% of the NBA’s annual revenue. Losing such a huge chunk is bound to affect every part of the league, from salary cap to administration costs. Consequently, the money vs. safety math has to be dealt with since the wave of Covid-19 is not likely to subside soon.
While addressing the players, Silver, however, proclaimed that no major decision would be made before June 1st, to give those involved enough time to ponder over the issue. In preparation for return, several teams such as the Orlando Magic, Cavaliers and Trail Blazers have opened their facilities for personal workouts.
Even better, the Lakers, Clippers, and Magic have received clearance on rolled out testing for asymptomatic players and staff members. If all teams can adopt this, it’s an optimal measure to counter the virus and maybe allow for resumption.
Elsewhere, despite the lack of game action, the basketball community has been at the forefront in helping out communities affected by Covid-19. Players continue contributing to charitable activities.
Magic Johnson, for instance, is offering loans to minority-owned business entities while the Rockets’ Russel Westbrook is feeding nurses in Los Angeles.