Adam Silver: Significant Coronavirus Spread Would Halt NBA Season

“Certainly, if we have a lot of cases, we’re going to stop.”

The NBA is scheduled to relaunch its season in Orlando next month, with 22 teams tentatively set to travel to the state beginning on July 7. But as Florida nears 150,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told TIME that completing the season isn’t a guarantee.

“[It’s] never ‘full steam no matter what,’” Silver told TIME. “One thing we’re learning about this virus is that much is unpredictable.”  

Last week, the NBA announced that 16 of its players had tested positive for coronavirus, though Silver said none were seriously ill. On Friday, he said that it would take a “significant spread” within the league’s Orlando campus for play to be stopped. 

“Certainly, if we have a lot of cases, we’re going to stop,” Silver told TIME.

He believes that the NBA’s Disney World campus is safer than off-campus play due to the close proximity of staff scientists, doctors and experts. Everyone within the NBA bubble will undergo uniform daily testing at the facility. 

All teams participating in the league’s resumption are scheduled to return to their training facilities on Wednesday. Some teams opened their facilities earlier and experienced positive coronavirus cases. 

On Monday, Nets center DeAndre Jordan announced he had tested positive for the virus and would not be participating in the league’s restart as a result.

On Tuesday, the Nets reopened their training facilities.

Despite the uptick of positive tests, Silver says he believes the reopening can have a lasting positive impact on society. His comments come days after the NBA announced that the league would allow players to replace their names with social justice statements on their jerseys.

“We’ve got a pandemic on our hand, we’ve got enormous social unrest, clearly a recession, could get worse depending on what happens with the virus,” he said to TIME. “And I think there are a large group of people who are looking forward to seeing, ‘All right, can the NBA find a way to get going again?’”

While the commissioner remains unsure what would constitute a “significant spread”—and the NBA has yet to release a plan should a coronavirus outbreak occur within the Orlando bubble—Silver says he is “relieved” that none of the cases within the league have been serious.

As of Tuesday, 5.3% of players had tested positive. 

Source: Sports Illustrated

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