NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has done an incredible job navigating the league through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He’s worked with the players, teams, public health officials and league executives to form a comprehensive plan for returning to play at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Part of the plan involves players remaining in a bubble for up to three months while being discouraged to leave. It was designed this way to ensure the safety of all players and team personnel.
Orlando was in part chosen because of the league’s relationship with Disney, and the viability of creating a safe and entertaining campus environment for players.
However, that has changed recently, with Florida seeing a statewide peak in coronavirus cases on Friday. Orange County, where Orlando is located, has the state’s fifth-largest number of cases. However, Silver is not overly concerned due to the environment the league has created.
“So beginning with the data, we looked at several different models, all based on the data we were seeing around us in society,” he explained.
“It was not our first choice to play on a closed campus, and I would say the data led us to ultimately conclude we needed to play on a closed campus under the protocols we’re talking about, obviously mandatory masking, no fans, contact tracing, aggressive testing, etc. So I think that’s where the data led us.
“In terms of choosing this location, it’s a fair question, whether if we were making this decision at this moment we would still choose Orlando, Florida. The only thing I’d say is because of the lead times, there is certainly an ebb and flow to this virus, and as I mentioned before, it’s on the rise in the majority of states in the United States right now, and my ultimate conclusion is that we can’t outrun the virus.
“This is what we’re going to be living with for the foreseeable future, which is why we designed the campus the way we did and so that we are —- it’s a closed network, and that while it’s not impermeable, we are in essence protected from cases around us. At least that’s the model. For those reasons we’re still very comfortable being in Orlando.”
Silver added the NBA is “closely monitoring” current conditions in Florida and are working with the stat’s Department of Health. He conceded the league theoretically could wind up making a change if conditions required such.
“We’re never going to say that there’s nothing that would cause us to change our plans,” Silver said.
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