The NBA’s plan to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando hit another obstacle on Tuesday when the Denver Nuggets were forced to shut down their facility due to multiple positive coronavirus tests. Teams are supposed to begin traveling to Florida next week, with staggered departure and arrival dates between July 7 and July 9.
In an interview with TIME Magazine, however, NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that they’re still moving forward. “Our best understanding of this virus is that it’s not going away anytime soon so we feel we have to find a way to move forward, and this is our way,” Silver said.
His interview touched on a number of topics, including whether or not he would be in Orlando for the duration of the season. He stated that he will be there for the beginning, but will be coming and going at various points. His full answer:
Sean Gregory, TIME Magazine: Adam, will you be spending the entire restarted NBA season in the Orlando bubble?
Silver: I will not. We have an arrangement there where — I’ll just call it a backdoor into the campus. Where you can almost think of it as different tiers of protection. That people immediately around the players, certainly anyone who is going to be playing, you know, who is going to be on the court with them, whether that be a referee, a coach or a trainer, anyone who needs to come, in essence, within 10 feet of them, will be following a certain protocol in terms of daily testing and protection. But then there are a group of us who will be able to come in, into the community, get tested when we come into the community but essentially remain far more than 10 feet away from the players, and therefore be able to come in and out.
I mean, that’s the same as some of the Disney employees as well who won’t be living on campus. So I will be down there. I will be down there at the beginning but I’m going to come and go and I think that my time in terms of running the league ultimately is best spent not living down on that campus for the entire time.
It’s worth noting that in the same interview, Silver says, “I’m absolutely convinced it will be safer on this campus than off this campus.” Which, if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better for the league’s leader to be in Orlando? Anyway, that’s beside the point.
The more interesting thing here is what this “backdoor,” as Silver calls it, means for the safety and security of the campus. What guarantees are in place to make sure that the people coming and going don’t come within 10 feet of the players and coaches? And even if measures are in place, will they actually be enforced?
Silver’s comments come at the same time as GMs around the league are trying to convince their staff members that it will be safe in Orlando, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.
The entire point of creating this campus environment was to limit the amount of interaction that teams had with the outside world so that the league could conclude its season as safely as possible. Creating a situation where a group of important personnel will be traveling in and out of Orlando as they please seems like it will open up more opportunities for the virus to spread.
Hopefully, that won’t be the case, but it’s clear that the more we learn about this operation, the less of a bubble it becomes.