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Silver on season restart: No guarantees, calls Covid-19 ‘unpredictable’

NBA commissioner is fine moving forward with the season restart in Orlando despite growing concern over increased coronavirus cases in Florida.

2020 NBA All-Star - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Press Conference Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

We’ve made it to July and the NBA season is expected to start at the end of the month in Orlando, Florida. This plan has been set in place for a little over a month now and it’s getting to the point where teams are expected to head to Disney World next week. With growing concerns about Covid-19 in the state, commissioner Adam Silver seems fine going along with the plan despite the risk.

“[It’s] never ‘full steam no matter what,” Silver told Time100Talks in an interview recorded on Tuesday. “One thing we’re learning about this virus is that much is unpredictable.”

Yes, the coronavirus is unpredictable, which is why it’s so dangerous. There were reports earlier in the week that Disney World will not be testing employees who enter and re-enter the park regularly. NBA players are expected to stay inside this “bubble” for an extended period of time, away from friends and family, isolating themselves as to not spread the virus. As we’ve seen with positive tests coming in left and right, just because everyone is in a bubble doesn’t mean Covid-19 won’t spread. Here’s what Silver had to say about a “significant spread.”

“Honestly … I’m not sure,” Silver said in the interview. “We have a panel of scientists, doctors, experts that are working with us. We’re going to see as we go.”

“Certainly, if we have a lot of cases, we’re going to stop,” Silver said. “You cannot run from this virus. I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus, because there aren’t many other situations I’m aware of where there’s mass testing of asymptomatic employees. So in some ways this is maybe a model for how other industries ultimately open.”

So Silver is convinced that it will be safer on the campus than outside in the middle of Florida, where the virus is currently running rampant. NBA teams aren’t even at the campus yet and the Brooklyn Nets are losing bodies rapidly. DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie have each tested positive, and Dinwiddie is mulling whether or not to go. We’ve heard Kyrie Irving’s comments not only about the health risk but about other causes concerning the nation. Silver supports his players and their right to speak out against social injustice.

“These athletes want to be heard on these issues, understandably,” Silver said. “And we also, at least in the case of the NBA, have a league where roughly 75% of our players are Black. They are probably some of the most prominent Black people in the entire world. They don’t just park their skin color, or who they are, when they play basketball. They have their life experiences, and they want to bring those to bear.”

As a result, the NBA is allowing players to put a specific message on the back of their jersey’s instead of their name. So instead of fighting for social injustice alongside their friends and families in neighborhoods across the country, they’ll get a say while stuck in quarantine, playing out a season that they probably shouldn’t be playing out right now. We’ll see how successful the bubble is and if it’s able to prevent the spread of the virus. If it isn’t, how long will Silver go before pulling the plug on 2019-20?