The NBA — much like every other major sports league — has struggled to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as their season goes on from outside the confines of a bubble.
To date, more than 20 games have been postponed with two teams, the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards, missing out on multiple contests due to team-wide outbreaks. Because of this, the NBA recently looked to tighten its health and safety protocols.
It started with stricter enforcement of mask wearing, then it was banning interaction between players of opposing teams when not in the game itself. While many of the rules certainly sound silly, they all serve a purpose of trying to preserve the 2020-21 season.
Now, despite the fact that the league has seen the number of postponements curtail, they are looking to tighten the rules once again. They are specifically focusing on new mask rules and how to better enforce the current ones, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN:
As the NBA continues to tighten its health and safety protocols to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will begin requiring players to wear KN95 or KF94 masks in all instances where required, sources told ESPN. The policy will go into effect in the next week, sources said. The league is in the process of getting masks to all 30 teams before making it mandatory that they are worn. Starting with games Friday, the NBA also plans to more strictly enforce current rules regarding the use of face masks.
With the All-Star break approximately one month away, it’s likely that these rules will remain in effect until at least that time. However, it’s possible that they will extend out even further, especially if the NBA goes through with their plan to have an All-Star Game in Atlanta during the break.
In addition to all of these in-game rules, the league is also hoping to be more swift when it comes to the postponement of games. Part of the early issues with outbreaks was that the NBA was being inconsistent with their decisions, and that is definitely something they’ve changed in recent weeks.
LeBron James happy to see fans in limited capacity
Even though the pandemic continues to ravage the United States, there are several teams that allow severely limited fan attendance. The Atlanta Hawks are one of those teams, and LeBron James spoke about seeing fans again after the Los Angeles Lakers win.
“At the end of the day I’m happy fans are back in the building. I miss that interaction, I need that interaction,” James said. “We as players need that interaction.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!