With the recent rise of coronavirus cases in the United States, especially in Florida, the NBA plans to resume the 2019-20 season on July 30.
League commissioner Adam Silver says he "remains confident" that the Disney World "bubble" will be safe, but also admitted that NBA games would be suspended again if there was a rapid spread of COVID-19 on the campus.
Silver appeared on TIME 100 Talks and was asked if it's full steam ahead for the league to restart in Florida as planned, despite the spike of coronavirus cases.
"Never full steam ahead no matter what," Silver told TIME. "One thing we are learning about this virus is much [is] unpredictable, and we and our players together with their union look at the data on a daily basis. If there were something to change that was outside of the scope of what we are playing for, certainly we would revisit our plans.
"We are testing daily. We haven't put a precise number on it, but if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well."While Silver doesn't know exactly what would constitute as a significant spread, the league would have to work with a panel of scientist, doctors and experts before making a decision to stop the NBA season for a second time.
"We are going to see as we go," Silver said. "Certainly if cases are isolated, that's one thing. A lot of the determination will be our understanding of how our community became infected. That will be part of our judgment in terms of whether we should continue. But certainly if we had a lot of cases, we are going to stop. You cannot run from this virus.
"I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus because there aren't many situations that I am aware of where there is mass testing of asymptomatic employees," Silver added of the NBA's plan to resume play at Walt Disney World Resort. "In some ways, this is maybe a model for how other industries can ultimately open. But I am only going to say we will be responsible and watch what is happening, but the biggest indicator will be if we begin to see a spread in our community."Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, reported Tuesday that the Denver Nuggets closed their practice facility on Saturday following All-Star Nikola Jokic and two others that were part of the 35-team members traveling to Orlando, tested positive of COVID-19 last week.
On Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets reopened their practice facility after being closed for several days, after forwards DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie recently tested positive for the coronavirus, per Wojnarowski.
Florida's Department of Health reported more than 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the state's total past 152,000 cases. On Saturday, the state had its highest single-day total reported at 9,585 cases, breaking it's own record of 8,942 new cases from Friday.
Silver, still believes the NBA's plan to restart the season in Orlando is designed to protect teams and players from what's going on outside of the community and state.
"I'm pretty confident, largely because we are playing on a campus that is confined in that the only way to gain access to that campus is to be part of our protocol where there is regular testing," Silver said. "And if someone were to leave our campus, they would need to test and quarantine in order to return to play. So at least in terms of the model, we are protected from the rate of cases in the broader community.
"I'll say of course when we designed this plan, we were not seeing the kind of increases in cases, frankly not just in Florida and Texas but at least of the last few days, the majority of states in the United States are seeing increases in COVID cases," Silver continued. "... [But] our model was designed for this. Our model was designed to protect us and our players from the cases in the outside community. Maybe at the time we designed it, we didn't think it would be as necessary as it is now, but at least we are preparing for it."
Watch Silver's full interview below:
Photo used courtesy of NBA.com