The NBA’s upcoming return is facing yet another obstacle, and it’s also far more serious than anything it preceded. This time, it’s COVID-19 showing a big spike of cases in Florida, where the season is slated to resume on July 31st.
Over the weekend, reports indicated that the state of Florida has generated 3,494 new cases, a record-high since the pandemic started.
“The not-so-good novel coronavirus news as far as Florida: the Sunday update case counts usually run lower than the rest of the week and this week’s 3,494 tops the previous Sunday high (last week) by 73%. And current hospitalizations continued their steady rise in Miami-Dade.”
It’s obviously alarming, and another challenging issue that the league office will have to address. This is a different animal, and way more worrisome than a player opposed to the return-to-play format, concerned about getting injured, or stressed about the social issues in America.
Baxter Holmes and Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote in their column that NBA commissioner Adam Silver has met with league executives regarding the matter. The obvious concern is there, but Silver is believed to have his confidence still intact about the return:
“In at least one recent call with high-level team executives, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has acknowledged the spiking numbers in Florida. Team sources described the general tone of that call, including the questions asked of Silver on it, as tense. Another called Silver’s tone “resolute but somber.” He expressed a resolve to go on — a confidence in the NBA’s bubble concept — while recognizing the seriousness of the coronavirus spike, sources said.”
You have to feel for Silver, whose patience and ability to resolve giant obstacles of all sorts keeps on getting tested. Prior to the pandemic, he had to address and/or fix the Donald Sterling scandal, the tanking debacle, the Daryl Morey-China beef, and the need to move the 2017 All-Star game away from Charlotte, and that’s just to name a few.
Over at the players’ side, meanwhile, the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) is expressing a desire for more caution. The group had a virtual meeting to discuss the matter and executive director Michele Roberts released a statement, also as per the Holmes and Lowe article:
“Can’t say I am surprised [by the increase of cases], given the state’s approach to reopening … We are obviously clearly monitoring the situation. While we take some solace in knowing our players will not travel commercially to get to Orlando, that access to the campus is severely limited and, of course, all of the other health and safety protocols in place, the numbers will keep our attention. If necessary to add further restrictions respecting those third parties having access to the campus, we will seek to implement them.”
The one encouraging factor for now, as miniscule it might be for some, is that the league is sure to get top-of-the-line medical attention to protect everyone who will be in the bubble, players and coaches in particular. A host of amenities will also be present to help teams have a feel of normalcy while the season is ongoing.
This week will be huge as the players will be on deadline on June 25th about their decision to participate in the season’s return. We’re sure to get major updates in the coming days.