Gregg Popovich says he considered sitting out NBA reboot, but now thinks Disney World is safer

Jack Baer
·2 min read

At 71 years old, Gregg Popovich — the oldest coach in the NBA — had plenty of reason to worry about playing games again as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The San Antonio Spurs head coach told reporters that he thought about sitting out of the NBA’s Disney World reboot at one point due to his age, but the league’s safety precautions convinced him he would be safe.

From ESPN's Royce Young:

"I talked to a lot of people, I talked to Adam [Silver], and you find out pretty quickly what he and his staff of many have gone through to put this thing together," Popovich said. "I honestly do believe, and it's not just me being a loyal soldier to the NBA, I've done my share of criticizing here and there when I thought it was necessary, but I don't know where else you would be as safe as we are right now. They can't spoil us here as much as they usually do, before COVID -- we're pretty spoiled, in all kinds of ways. So we're not as spoiled now, but it's good for all of us."

Popovich wasn’t the only one with concerns about the safety of the NBA’s so-called bubble at Disney World. Several players have said they aren’t sure it will work, and even NBA commissioner Adam Silver has conceded a rash of positive tests could derail the season.

The concept of isolating players and coaches from the rest of the world as they finish the season has been endorsed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, but the NBA’s execution of the idea comes with a glaring weakness. While the NBA will be staying on campus 24/7, the Disney World employees serving them will not. And when they’re not working, many of those employees will be living in some of the worst COVID-19 hot spots in not just the country, but the world.

Facing that problem, the NBA has said it will be enforcing several measures to limit exposure to the virus, like masks, social distancing, frequent cleaning and rigorous testing. Popovich apparently believes those can work, or at least work better than if he had stayed home:

"From an intellectual point of view and a medical point of view, I would have to say not probably, but I am safer here -- if this bubble works -- I'm safer here than I would be in Texas. For sure. As you see what's going on there."

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb.10, 2020, in Denver. The Nuggets won 127-120. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Gregg Popovich says he feels safe in the bubble. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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