Adam Silver admits more COVID-19 cases in NBA's 'bubble' could shut down season again

·3 min read

NBA teams have begun flying to Orlando to restart the season at Disney World, where they will isolate for two days and undergo more coronavirus tests before playing again.

At that point, the NBA will hope it has set up a “bubble,” a concept endorsed by Dr. Anthony Fauci in which a league plays games in isolation to prevent players from being exposed to the virus.

Per ESPN, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at a virtual conference that the league expects to see more coronavirus cases as teams arrive. If the league encounters more cases after that, though, the situation could apparently grow dire:

“We won’t be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players test positive,” Silver told Fortune Brainstorm Health. “What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we were to have any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue.

“... We would know that there’s, in essence, a hole in our bubble or that our quarantine or our campus is not working in some way,” Silver added later. “So that would be very concerning.”

Silver said any significant amount of positive cases inside the protected campus could result in a second shutdown of the NBA season.

That last sentence is obviously the NBA’s nightmare.

Just one coronavirus case could turn into dozens if a player enters a game not knowing he could transmit the coronavirus to other players, and dozens of cases would be more than enough to endanger the entire league. Ideally, a bubble league would prevent any players from contracting the virus, but, unfortunately, we already know the NBA’s Disney World setup won’t be a true bubble.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver gestures as he addresses a press conference ahead of the NBA basketball match between Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on January 24, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver might have to shut down the season if the league sees more coronavirus cases in a few weeks. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

The NBA Disney World bubble isn’t really a bubble

While NBA players, coaches and other staff will be staying on the Disney World campus until the end of their seasons, the Disney World employees cooking their meals, cleaning their rooms and doing everything else to support them will not.

And many of those employees live in some of the worst COVID-19 hot spots right now, according to the Orlando Sentinel:

Of the 20 Central Florida ZIP codes with the most Disney workers represented by union Unite Here, half rank in the region’s top 30 ZIPs for confirmed COVID-19 cases, an Orlando Sentinel analysis shows. More than 8,600 Disney workers live in those ZIP code areas.

Measures will reportedly be taken to minimize exposure between Disney employees and the NBA, like masks, other protective equipment, social distancing, frequent cleaning and frequent testing. But all it takes is one leak to create a problem.

A number of NBA players have indicated they are preparing for the worst.

Several NBA stars concerned bubble won’t work

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid are all among the players skeptical of the NBA’s plan.

Embiid said he “hated” the idea, Ingram said he’s “not very confident” the NBA’s experiment will work and Lillard doubted players would adhere to the NBA’s rules. Several more players have already opted out of the bubble, for varying reasons.

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