NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Commissioner Silver Discusses COVID, Future of the NBA

Eight days have passed since the last NBA game took place.

For fans of the league, and maybe sports fans in general, those eight days might seem closer to an eternity right now.

However, as a society and sports leagues continue to manage themselves through the COVID-19 pandemic, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is not yet close to guessing when the NBA will resume play.

ESPN’s Rachel Nichols discussed a variety of topics with Silver on Wednesday’s episode of SportsCenter. The commissioner admitted that he simply does not know when, or how, the NBA will conclude the remainder of its season. Why? It’s too early to tell.

But Silver isn’t a man with no plans either. Instead, he outlined three distinct ways and criteria in which the NBA could potentially resume play:

  1. “When can we resume play as we’ve known it? 19,000 fans in arenas.”
  2. “Should we consider restarting without fans, and what would that mean?”
  3. “Are there conditions in which a group of players could compete, maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or for the collective good of the people. You take a subset of players, test and isolate them, and maybe they can compete against each other.”

The Options

Silver wants the NBA back and running as soon as possible. Just today, English Football was suspended until at least April 30. The commissioner hasn’t done that yet.

The fact he still thinks the first two options are plausible could be a good sign. But Silver’s third option is intriguing, to say the least.

“Just in the case of the NBA, when you include or day-of-game workers in our arenas, just the NBA accounts for roughly 55,000 jobs,” said Silver. “We all have to be thinking collectively what the right balance is, and I know this is the obligation of governments, but when will it be ok to come out of our homes and reengage with each other?”

The commissioner understands the importance of his league, but he also recognizes that public health is the underlying determinant.

Silver Defends NBA Amidst Criticism

Recently the entire Brooklyn Nets team was tested for COVID-19. Reports speculate that four Nets players, including Kevin Durant, have contracted coronavirus.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio then criticized the NBA for testing an entire roster of players while ill citizens are awaiting more urgent tests. de Blasio stated that tests should be “for the sick instead of the wealthy.”

In response, Silver said that players did not ask to be tested. He claimed that Oklahoma City health officials forced the Utah Jazz to be tested last week. The protocol then followed to test every team they came in contact with.

“I understand there are many sides to these issues, but I also think that by virtue of an NBA player [Rudy Gobert] being tested and the kind of attention it brought, my sense was that people were not taking these protocols all that seriously until the NBA did what it did.

At one point in the interview with Nichols, Silver even discussed the possibility of virtual fans in the NBA. He seemed excited and optimistic about potential future opportunities that can come from this ordeal.

“You know, sometimes even out of the worst crisis comes opportunity,” said Silver. “One thing I’ll say about the U.S., as we’ve watched this unfold around the world, is that we are an incredible country. Some of the greatest inventions, innovations and minds are in this country. I’m sure as people are sitting at home but still working, they’re thinking of this various things. How can we restart the country, and what role can the NBA play?”

Though there’s no word yet on when basketball will resume, Silver will continue to exhaust all options and resources to salvage this NBA season.

Time, and health, will tell.

About Edgar Chavero

Sports media and management student at the University of Florida. Content creator for ESPN 98.1 FM/ 850 AM WRUF.

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