As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, the NBA is working to protect its teams and players. While no major changes have happened yet, there is reportedly growing concern among NBA executives and owners that the league could take on more drastic measures in response to the virus, which could include playing games without fans, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
This is a reality that franchises have been instructed to be prepared for after a memo was sent to every team saying that each franchise is required to have several contingency plans in place by Tuesday, March 10. These include an arrangement with an infectious disease specialist, the identifying of a specific facility to test for coronavirus and a plan to limit the number of team and arena staff members that would interact with players, according to Wojnarowski. In addition to a conference call planned for Monday night involving NBA team doctors and trainers to discuss potential next steps, a conference call meeting is reportedly scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with team owners to figure out how to combat the coronavirus.
The league is also planning to limit locker room access to only essential team personnel before and after games. That includes coaches, front office executives, basketball and PR staff, per Wojnarowski. Additionally, teams are reportedly being instructed to create six-to-eight feet of space between players and media members during availability sessions outside of team locker rooms.
While cases of the virus in North America have been fairly minimal compared to other countries, each day the number of reported cases is rising. More concerning is the disease’s impact on foreign countries that the NBA scouts. There is reportedly concern around the league that pre-draft scouting visits and workouts could be limited or even canceled entirely because of the virus. As of now, the NBA is preparing for upcoming events such as the Global Hoops Summit and NBA Draft Combine to proceed as scheduled.
The NBA has been in communication with both the CDC and private experts, according to this report. Their expectation, at the moment, is that a player infected with the virus would be sidelined for around two weeks. Additionally, players are taking their own steps to remain healthy. CJ McCollum, for instance, announced that he would not be signing autographs for the foreseeable future.
So far, the NBA has not canceled, rescheduled or otherwise altered any games. The EuroLeague has already played some games without fans or media in attendance in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, but so far, that is not a step that the NBA has publicly taken.
For the time being, all the league can do is monitor the situation as it develops in North America and prepare for the possibility of a wider spread if it comes to that. Hopefully, though, the league will be able to proceed with minimal disruptions.
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