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Volume 26 No. 208
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Bound For The Bubble: NBA Details Expectations Upon Return

The NBA and NBPA yesterday sent all players health and safety guidelines "ahead of the resumption of the 2019-20 season on July 30” in Orlando, according to Shams Charania of THE ATHLETIC. The manuals were created “with guidance from the CDC, public health officials and medical experts.” The NBA took into account “similar protocols in other sports leagues, teams and events” (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/16). The league's 113-page guide paints a picture of "extreme caution, with players, coaches and staff members living and playing in an environment unlike any they’ve experienced before." The numerous safety measures are being taken "to help the league avoid its nightmare scenario: Players or staff members falling ill and the season that was already brought to its proverbial knees once again coming to a fateful end" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/17). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt noted the health and safety protocols "are divided into six phases" and listed some of the highlights of each phase (USA TODAY, 6/16). 

COMBINING TESTING, TECHNOLOGY: ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported the NBA will utilize “video technology to help with contact tracing for any individual who tests positive.” The league will “designate as a ‘close contact’ anyone who was within 6 feet of the positive-test person for at least 15 minutes and anyone who had ‘direct contact with infectious secretions and excretions.’" Those people will be tested (ESPN.com, 6/16). ESPN’s Brian Windhorst notes the league does not spell out "how many positive tests it would take for the NBA to consider shutting this down." That is left "open-ended, other than the NBA acknowledges that is expecting multiple positive tests" ("Get Up," ESPN, 6/17).

STAYING WITHIN THE BUBBLE: In N.Y., Marc Stein reports every NBA player and team staff member “will be expected to stay on the campus at nearly all times.” Any player or staff member who leaves “without approval and wishes to return will face a quarantine period of ‘up to 10 or more days.’” Delegations capped at 35 people per team for the 22 clubs will be “largely limited to shuttling back and forth among their assigned team hotels, seven practice facilities and the three arenas used for games at the complex” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/17). THE ATHLETIC’s Charania & Amick note all NBA personnel “will be required to wear a MagicBand at all times, other than during workouts.” A Disney MagicBand will provide “access control functions as a hotel room key, for security checkpoints and to check-in for coronavirus testing and other medical screening.” Some agents have “expressed concerns in recent weeks about the prospects of wearing a band at all times due to the level of monitoring,” but this is “another way the NBA and NBPA are prioritizing health and safety” (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/17).

PLENTY TO KEEP THEMSELVES BUSY: USA TODAY’s Mark Medina reported teams were assigned to “one of three deluxe hotels based on the current standings in each conferences.” Players will have “plenty of options to keep themselves entertained.” Each hotel has a “players-only lounge with NBA 2K, TV’s, arcade games and ping-pong tables.” There is “resort-style outdoor space that has a set up for pool access and card games.” The property has “enough land for teams to go fishing, golfing, bowling, boating, bike riding and running," as well as access to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Wild Africa Trek (USA TODAY, 6/16). In L.A., Dan Woike writes under the header, “Concerts, Comedy And Private Disney Rides? NBA Life In The Bubble Might Not Be So Bad” (L.A. TIMES, 6/17). In Houston, Jonathan Feigen writes under the header, “DJs, Ping Pong And Pedicures: Inside The NBA's Plan To Restart.” Feigen: “It won’t all be so bad. They will be able to distract themselves from those realities with perks ranging from ping pong to pedicures” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/17). THE ATHLETIC lays out more of the rules and guidelines in the NBA's manual (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/17).

  • Team staff members who sit on the second row of the bench will wear masks (not including active players) but the first row participants are excluded.
  • Other mask-wearers include medical training staff, the scorer’s table crew, ball boys, equipment attendants, on-court broadcast staff, in-arena staff and individuals watching games (including media).
  • Referees, statisticians and the PA announcer are not required to wear masks.
  • No doubles during ping pong.
  • Each deck of cards is disposed of after use.
  • No caddies during golfing; no sharing of clubs and balls; hand sanitizer used throughout.
  • No headsets allowed during video gaming.
  • Disney cast members cannot deliver luggage personally inside a player or staff member’s room