Adam Silver On The NBA’s Restart: ‘No Options Are Risk-Free Right Now’

The NBA is going full steam ahead with its plan for a bubble league in Orlando. The league and the NBPA announced that they had finalized plans for the upcoming restart at Disney World, and despite 16 positive cases of COVID-19 from its first round of testing, things are falling into place for basketball to return at the end of July.

Following the announcement on Friday afternoon, a collection of individuals atop the league’s hierarchy held a press conference in which they addressed the media’s questions about the bubble league. While on the call, Adam Silver gave a sobering read on the entire situation: With the novel coronavirus being something that is not going away any time soon, he is of the belief that it is in the league’s best interest to “adapt.”

Silver also addressed a gigantic concern that, well, everyone has about the bubble league: what, exactly, happens if community spread of COVID-19 occurs in the friendly confines of Disney? As he explained it, this sort of scenario could lead to the league deciding to pull the plug on the bubble league experiment, but he made it a point to say that an exact plan has not been laid out.

As for what is going on right now in Florida — which is viewed as one of the COVID-19 epicenters in the United States — Silver did say that the league is willing to reconsider at a certain point. For now, however, the league isn’t deterred as cases rise in the Sunshine State, and protocols will be in place for players who leave the bubble and non-NBA staffers who are inside of it.

“The answer is yes, the level of concern has increased — not just because of the increased levels in Florida, but throughout the country,” Silver said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “At least today, I believe, 29 of the 50 states have an increased number of cases. Of course, we designed our campus, in essence, to isolate ourselves from whatever the level of cases was in the surrounding community.

“But since we designed our initial protocol, we are continuing to work with Disney on the testing of at least a subset of their employees that could potentially be in the same room as our players, and anyone else who’s tested daily on our campus. So we are satisfied that, once we work through those additional measures with Disney, we will continue to have a safe setting for us to resume our season.”

Beyond basketball, there are questions about how the league will handle being back in the public eye during the current moment in the United States, when so much attention is on the fight against systemic inequality and police brutality. It was a major concern for a number of players, and Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum explained that while the NBA and WNBA are in positions to advocate for change due to the fact that they will be playing games, there is still work that needs to be done internally.

Chris Paul, the president of the NBPA, promised that players will make their voices heard on matters of racial justice during the bubble league, while executive director Michele Roberts mentioned the opportunity that the league has to champion these issues.

There is still plenty that needs to be made public about the league’s approach for Orlando, as its specific plan has not been revealed for public consumption. We will, however, learn about the schedule that will be played on Friday evening.

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