The novel coronavirus pandemic has the rest of the sports world, including the NBA at a standstill. It’s been just over two weeks since the league suspended play and the remainder of the 2019-20 season is in flux. Although there has been some uncertainty as to how soon will it be safe for games to resume, that has not stopped the league from preparing a roadmap to normalcy. The NBA is looking to the Chinese Basketball Association for examples on how to resume play in a safe and timely manner, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The Chinese league has considered gathering every team and playing games in one or two cities with warm climate or effective quarantine strategies. This scenario would involve the temperatures of players being monitored multiple times each day. NBA players and executives might not be too far away from considering a similar strategy if things works out in China, according to Windhorst.
Various ideas have been floated by players and executives. One is to consider using a sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, where everything could be held under one roof. Others have suggested playing in the Bahamas, where a ballroom could be converted into a playing court specifically for broadcast. There has even been talk of taking over a college campus in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment.
Getting restarted won’t be easy. Basketball leagues in Korea and Japan both attempted – and failed – to resume action. The CBA has already delayed its return twice, initially set for early April, but now targeted for late April or early May. In the past week, CBA stars Lance Stephenson and Jeremy Lin returned to China and began 14-day self-quarantines to get cleared for training camp.
If the 2019-20 NBA season resumes, it would be under circumstances the league has never seen before. Fans could be barred from games; broadcasters may be given limited access, and the playoff format could be tweaked. Whichever path the league chooses, it will surely consider the successes – and failures – of the CBA in its return.