Things seem to be moving slowly towards the NBA resuming play and finishing out the 2019-20 season, which is great for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers who had legit championship aspirations this year.
The league and players have been discussing numerous different possibilities with guidelines on a return expected and the city of Orlando looking like the location where everything will take place. One of the main sticking points is the need for players to be more or less contained in an area.
Players going out and interacting with the general public would greatly increase the risk of someone else contracting COVID-19 and potentially spreading it to others around the league which could cause another shutdown. The issue, however, is that many players don’t like the idea of being isolated away from their families for that long a period of time.
Players being completely quarantined is something that didn’t necessarily sit well with them, but Lakers veteran Jared Dudley said that won’t be the case. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Dudley explained players will be allowed to leave, but it does come with some inherit risks:
“You will be allowed to leave,” Dudley said Wednesday on a video conference call with reporters, citing conversations he has been privy to with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts. “Now just because you leave, if we’re going to give you that leeway, if you come back with corona, you can’t play.”
As Dudley noted, the league would be giving the players a lot of leeway and would be trusting them not to endanger themselves or anyone else. But Dudley also believes that with so many players with different personalities, you can’t keep them all contained:
“When you’re dealing with 300 different players — if you’ve seen the [Michael] Jordan documentary, every team’s got a [Dennis] Rodman. He just doesn’t have green and blue hair,” Dudley said, referring to Rodman’s jaunts in “The Last Dance,” when he left the Bulls to go to Las Vegas and WrestleMania. “There’s always someone who’s outside the box, who does that, takes the risk and says, ‘Hey, listen, man, I’m healthy, and I feel good.’”
Any return to play will bring with it inherit dangers, but it will be on the players and league to minimize and limit them as much as possible. But for teams like the Lakers, Bucks, and Clippers who are eyeing a championship, those risks are even greater as you wouldn’t want to let your teammates down:
“There would be added pressure not to potentially leave so you don’t get the COVID-19,” Dudley said.
The NBA is weighing all possible options in any potential return and the risks will be there regardless of any plan the league and players agree to. Dudley understands the need for players to have that freedom, but they will have to carefully weigh the risks as they could potentially endanger their teammates as well as their championship hopes.