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Volume 27 No. 5
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Silver: NBA "Comfortable" With Bubble's Safety Despite Florida Surge

Adam Silver acknowledged the league's internal concern "has increased" as Florida cases spike
Photo: ESPN IMAGES
Adam Silver acknowledged the league's internal concern "has increased" as Florida cases spike
Photo: ESPN IMAGES
Adam Silver acknowledged the league's internal concern "has increased" as Florida cases spike
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that the league and NBPA "share the belief that their 'deliberate, intentional and collaborative' plan will provide a safe environment even though Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases Friday," according to Ben Golliver of the WASHINGTON POST. Silver said, "No options are risk-free right now. And if we can't sit on the sidelines indefinitely, we must adapt." He added, "While (the bubble) is not impermeable, we are in essence protected from cases around us. For those reasons, we're still very comfortable being in Orlando." However, Silver "acknowledged the league's internal concern 'has increased' this week and said the league and players are 'closely monitoring' developments, but he expressed confidence in the bubble concept." Silver also said that a "'subset' of Disney employees could be subjected to additional testing, as a method to ensure the health of personnel inside the bubble." Golliver noted the league has "not set a threshold for when to pull the plug if faced with a widespread outbreak" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/27).

WILL IT BE ENOUGH? In Orlando, Iliana Limon Romero reported the NBA is "providing extensive testing of players, with daily testing when teams first arrive at their Disney hotels." All athletes and staff "will be required to wear masks when not playing, they will be required to follow social distancing procedures and the league will put an emphasis on both personal hygiene and cleaning anywhere NBA players or staff are located." Silver said that the league still is "discussing procedures with Disney to test workers who will be coming in and out of the campus." The workers are "under a union contract that made it difficult to require they be housed at Disney alongside the players and NBA staff" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/27). In N.Y., Howie Kussoy reported there also will be be a "medical clinic set up on the campus" (N.Y. POST, 6/27).

WHAT-IFSUSA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt wondered, "What if there is a significant outbreak or several players from one team test positive?" Silver said, "If we were to have significant spread of coronavirus through our community, that ultimately might lead us to stopping. But we're working closely with the players associations, Disney and public-health officials in Florida as to what that line should be" (USA TODAY, 6/26). SI.com's Chris Mannix asked, "If a coronavirus outbreak occurs in the bubble, does the NBA have a breaking point?" Mannix: "If a team is decimated by an outbreak in, say the conference semifinals, what will the NBA do? If LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo tests positive, would the league pause whatever series they are playing in until the virus clears their system?" (SI.com, 6/26). In Boston, Gary Washburn noted the NBA is "ready to go forward, hoping for the best but understanding it could also turn into a debacle if multiple players test positive" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/28). 

ONLY HOPE? In Toronto, Doug Smith wrote while the NBA is in Florida, it is "not really in Florida and it has so much control over what goes on in its own environment that it's at least got a fighting chance." But the one thing the NBA has done is "take control of as much as it possibly can." It is "not perfect -- nothing is or was ever going to be -- but it's good as I think you can get" (TORONTO STAR, 6/26). YAHOO SPORTS' Henry Bushnell noted experts agree that the NBA's plan is "safer than MLB's" and "far superior to college football's." But plans are "only as strong as the humans who execute them," and if the NBA "can't finish safely, no U.S. league can" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/26).