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Charles Barkley has a knack for making headlines with his comments.
But did he actually share some inside information about the fate of the NBA season on Monday?
Barkley, who works on TNT’s NBA studio show “Inside the NBA,” appeared on ESPN’s “The Paul Finebaum Show” (h/t@The Score) and discussed his thoughts on the return of college football in the fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, he talked about the NBA, which needs to make a decision on its 2019-20 season much sooner.
‘I’m 100 percent sure’
“We’re gonna make a decision in the next week," Barkley said about the NBA. “I'm 100 percent sure we're going to play. I know my friends in Major League Baseball are going to play. I think that the hockey league is going to play.
“I think the pro football and the college football, they have to sit back and see how it goes for us.”
Was Barkley just speculating, or does he know something that we don’t? Later in the conversation, he said he was speaking based on conversations with TNT management.
‘Talking to my bosses at Turner ...’
“I do know this, talking to my bosses at Turner,” Barkley said. “We're going to play basketball. It's gonna be in Florida and (Las) Vegas, or just Florida.”
If the NBA does have firm plans to finish the season, it makes sense that the league would figure things out with its broadcast partners before making the information public.
Of course Barkley said himself that a decision is pending before stating that he’s “100 percent sure” about the fate of the season. So it’s best not to place any firm bets based on Barkley’s comments. But it’s one more sign pointing the league’s return.
Where do things stand for the NBA?
The latest official news has the NBA confirming that it’s in talks with Disney about restarting the season at the Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando in a so-called “bubble” league that would isolate teams in one area.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday that the NBPA is in talks with teams and players to gather feedback on the proposed bubble league.
Players want to play
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported earlier in May that a group of star players including LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard held a conference call and agreed that they wanted to resume the season with proper safety protocols.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard and NBPA president Chris Paul confirmed that stance days later.
Coronavirus is still here
So again. Everything points to the NBA resuming its season if all parties can work out the details. But the details are complicated. Especially considering that the COVID-19 pandemic is maintaining its grip on the United States and could see a resurgence with shelter-in-place guidelines being lifted nationwide.
As of Monday, the U.S. had tallied more than 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with more than 15,000 new cases on Monday. The domestic death toll is more than 97,000.
Barkley on challenges of a sequestered playoff
Barkley brought up some of the concerns that could come from a sequestered NBA playoffs, especially if a player gets sick.
“You can’t stop the playoffs,” Barkley said. “I think a team’s gonna have to just forfeit a series. If any of their players —not even their best player, gets the virus.
“You’re going to have to to sequester the entire team and they’re gonna have to forfeit a round of the playoffs. They’re gonna be gone from the playoffs.”
He also spoke about the challenges of social distancing for players on and off the court.
“The key is gonna be the players,” Barkley said. “I mean, listen — big basketball players pushing on each other in the lane, fighting for rebounds and post position, there’s no way they can social distance.
“You got to worry — they say they’re gonna put them in a hotel for two or three months. I’m like, ‘Well are the maids gonna be in the hotel for two or three months?’ The maids are gonna go home every day. What about the people in room service? They’re gonna go home every day. So it’s just a lot of unanswered questions.”
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