The 2020-21 NBA season has essentially arrived as training camp is in full swing with the preseason set to tip off later this week.
There were several roadblocks to get to this point, but the NBA and NBPA have been able to work together to ensure that the season goes on. However, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic looms large and the league is doing its due diligence to ensure players and team staff members are safe and healthy during the year.
The upcoming season is an entirely different challenge from the Orlando bubble as teams will be back in their home markets. Some states are being hit harder than others in regards to the number of positive cases, but rates are increasing across the nation which puts people at higher risk of contracting it.
Like with the bubble, the NBA has enacted numerous protocols and guidelines to protect against this as much as possible, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, it has warned teams what could happen if these rules are broken:
“For players violating safety protocols this season, the league warns that the possibility of in-season quarantine and reduced paychecks loom as possibilities. While the memo doesn’t outline the length of quarantines, it says that any such player “may be subject to a proportionate adjustment to pay for any games missed during the period that the player is in quarantine and undergoing testing due to engaging in such activities and/or conduct.”
However, the league is allowing a few concessions in order to give the players and staff some level of freedom when traveling.
Despite concerns about the threat of infection as teams return to game travel, the NBA is allowing for players and staff to leave hotels for dining under these circumstances: outdoor dining, fully privatized room dining in restaurants, or NBA/NBPA approved restaurants that will meet league criteria. Players had hoped that they wouldn’t be sequestered to their rooms on road trips, and these measures will serve as something of a compromise. The NBA and NBPA are working to compile a list of at least three approved restaurants in each market. … At home, players and staff are forbidden to enter bars, lounges or clubs, attend live entertainment or game venues, or visit public gyms, spas, pool areas or large indoor social gatherings that exceed 15 people, the memo said.
It remains to be seen how this upcoming season will go, but the NBA has demonstrated that it takes the threat of the virus as serious as possible. They will be reportedly implementing an anonymous hotline to report any safety protocol violations, but hopefully no one has to use it given the current circumstances.
NBA looking to avoid NFL, MLB coronavirus situations
Fortunately for the NBA, they have been able to see how leagues like the NFL and MLB handled coronavirus cases midseason. This kind of information should help in the case an outbreak occurs on a team, though they are likely hopeful that the guidelines in place will prevent those kinds of situations from happening.
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