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Volume 26 No. 141
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Proactive Stance By Silver, NBA May Help Slow Outbreak

The NBA's move to suspend its season "may end up playing an important part in flattening the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made a decision that “may turn out to be a great public health decision," as he "helped prevent millions of people from gathering at sporting events before the government ordered it." Warriors coach Steve Kerr: "The NBA coming to a halt helped a lot of people come to grips. It was one of the tipping points where society at large knew how serious this was." Zillgitt notes Silver "relied on relationships he had formed to help him understand coronavirus and its potential impact," staying in contact with several top doctors and medical officials. Silver indicated that a conversation he had with NBPA Exec Dir Michele Roberts and NBPA staffers "centered on what makes sense for both sides 'without compromising anyone's safety.'" He then had a "lengthy BOG meeting where every owner or team representative had a chance to speak." A "significant part" of that conversation "focused on playing games without fans vs. taking a hiatus." The topic of a player testing positive also "came up in the BOG meeting, and while there was no definitive answer, the consensus favored a hiatus" (USA TODAY, 3/19).

EMBRACING ITS SOCIETAL ROLE: Silver appeared on ESPN last night and said there is a "unique role" the NBA can play in society, especially with regards to the coronavirus pandemic. He said, "We're part of the psyche of our country -- of the world, for that matter -- and I recognize that when we went off the air last Wednesday night, it was a larger decision than just the NBA. It got a lot of people's attention" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/18). In S.F., Ann Killion writes under the header, "How NBA, Kevin Durant Have Shown Sports' Power During Coronavirus Crisis." When a multi-billion dollar business like the NBA "shutters its doors for the foreseeable future, the message is immediate: This is as serious as anything can be." Additionally, by going public with positive diagnosis, Durant "might have sent an important message to a key demographic: young people who feel they're immune to this outbreak" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/19). Meanwhile, Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said the NBA, and all sports, "will be a vital mechanism for bringing people back together." However, he admits basketball is the "last thing on my mind right now" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 3/18).

PRAISE FROM MEDICAL FIELD: Johns Hopkins Univ. assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery Geoffrey Dreher "praised the NBA's quick action last week." He said, "It was impressive. The quick decision-making they did after that first diagnosis, looking in hindsight I think it was the right decision and was a tipping point especially in the public eye to kind of pandemic that’s going on and the severity that athletes, the sports world, as well as the general population, should be more aware of this” (L.A. TIMES, 3/19). Digital learning platform Osmosis Chief Medical Officer & Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Rishi Desai said of Silver, "His action was instrumental at getting the political will and the economic will across the country over the hump, to switch us from one mode of thinking to another and get us to realize this is no longer an inconvenience and it is a national emergency" (USA TODAY, 3/19).

TRUST IN THE NBA: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes, "The NBA led us here, and it's a safe bet they'll lead us out of it. ... Just as the NBA was the leader in shutting it all down, The Association will be at the forefront of when we all return." Engel: "We will know whenever the NBA tips off, the hiatus will be over" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/19).

THIS DOES RAISE ONE QUESTION: In N.Y., Kristian Winfield writes the positive tests in the sports world "signaled the alarm not just in the NBA but across the globe: If a multi-million-dollar professional athlete in tip-top shape can catch the coronavirus, so can anyone else." However, they also "spurred an important question: In a world where more people are suffering and dying from the coronavirus by the day, why are young, healthy athletes being tested without showing any symptoms?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19).