On March 1, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams offering some suggestions regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. Some recommendations to players include avoiding high-fives with fans/players, not signing fan merchandise. Also, the NBA advised teams to have multiple emergency plans in place. One future possibility may be to play games in empty venues.
New memo to to teams says each is required to have several plans in place by Tuesday, including arrangement with an infectious disease specialist, the IDing of a facility to test for coronavirus, a plan to limit number of team and arena staff who'd interact with players. https://t.co/qsmIf30Fxe
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 8, 2020
Player Responses to Coronavirus Memo
Reactions throughout the association have been mixed. It’s worth noting that many teams have warned their players to be cautious when interacting with fans, other players, and media.
Handshakes and high-fives were a large point of concern in the memo. Teams have advised their players that they should refrain from shaking hands or giving high-fives to fans. Instead, players have turned to use a fistbump as an alternative. Players seem to be adapting to the new team guidelines well, as evidenced by Philadelphia 76ers’ forward, Tobias Harris‘ new handshake:
Currently, the idea of playing the rest of the season in empty arenas is a polarizing one. The plan is for all games to be played without fans, in the hope that it will lower the risk of transmitting the virus.
When word about possibly playing in empty venues reached LA Lakers’ forward Lebron James, he met it with resistance. According to the Washington Post, Lebron said,
“I play for the fans; that’s what it’s all about. If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans there, I ain’t playing.”
Despite James’ protests, the idea has already been put in motion. Johns Hopkins University was the sight of what might be the first sports event in the US to be played without spectators. According to CBS Sports, an empty gym at the Baltimore university was the venue where Yeshiva University defeated Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Meanwhile, officers lined the outside of the arena, ready to stop people from getting in.