Though it is basically in the background now amidst all of the social unrest across the country speaking up against police brutality against African-Americans, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak remains a major problem in this country and was the reason for the NBA shutting down.
Concerns about public safety still remain as the pandemic seems to be picking up steam again and spreading across the country. With the NBA and NBPA having agreed to a plan to return to play and finish out the season, the systems in place on protecting the players and ensuring everyone remains safe are coming into question as players would be taking a huge risk by coming back.
The NBPA has been involved in all discussions regarding the return led by executive director Michelle Roberts and president Chris Paul. Roberts recently spoke about the return and expressed a belief the majority of players support the season resuming, via Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:
“I think the players are where they want to be,” she said. “They want to give it a shot and if it doesn’t work, well, we tried. Hopefully nothing catastrophic will happen and we can just figure out Plan B. If the worst would happen and it would spread, we shut it down. This is the virus. I’m going to be disheartened, but I’m not going to be surprised because there’s no scientific or medical ability to protect against it. The players know it. The teams know it.”
Roberts also noted that the NBPA and the league are doing everything they can to limit the risks and protect the players:
“We’re doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate it. If I didn’t think we were, that the league was half-stepping, then I would recommend with every ounce of my being that our players not even think about playing again. But that’s thankfully not the case.”
Of course, with everything else going on in America right now, this isn’t the only thing on players’ minds when discussing a potential return. That being said, Roberts is adamant that when it comes to players’ safety the league is doing everything it can to protect them.
There is clearly a contingent of players who don’t believe the league should resume at this time, but just how many is still unclear. Roberts is of the belief that most of them want to play and if that really is the case, the league will almost surely be returning unless there has been a big change of heart amongst the league’s biggest stars.
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