There is a problem.
The sports media is celebrating that the National Basketball Association is coming back. But the league commissioner, Adam Silver, may have inadvertently brought up a major problem in an interview with broadcast partner TNT. Silver was discussing the COVID-19 illness and how that might impact the NBA’s planned July and August return and expressed concern on how to protect older employees who seem to be most vulnerable to the virus. “There are people involved in this league, particularly coaches, who are obviously older people. We’re going to have to work through protocols, for example, and it may be certain coaches may not able to be the bench coach. They may have to maintain social distancing protocols, and maybe they can be in the front of a room, a locker room with a whiteboard, but when it comes to actual play we’re not going to want them that close to players in order to protect them.” Three coaches fit that category, Gregg Popovich is 71, Mike D’Antoni is 68 and Alvin Gentry is 65. Silver did backtrack on the statement but the statement does underscore a major problem. COVID-19 is not going away and resuming the season is a risk-reward endeavor. College football is slowly returning to the practice fields and two schools have had players testing positive for COVID-19, the University of Alabama and Marshall University.
Silver had said that science and data would dictate the path back to playing after the league stopped playing in March when two members of the Utah Jazz were diagnosed with COVID-19 but money is becoming an issue. The league owners want television cash and could get it from Disney’s ESPN, AT &T’s Turner Sports and international TV contracts. The league will play games at the Disney property near Orlando, Florida. There has been a spike of COVID-19 cases in Florida. There is a long road ahead.