NBA's Adam Silver makes clear games will go on amid COVID surge

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Adam Silver says NBA plans to push through COVID surge originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The games will go on.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered that message Tuesday afternoon in an interview with host Malika Andrews on ESPN’s “NBA Today” program.

Despite over 100 players landing in the league’s health and safety protocols throughout December, including 11 of the Chicago Bulls’ 12 cases, Silver said there are no plans for a leaguewide pause.

"We've of course looked at all the options. But frankly, we're having trouble coming up with what the logic would be behind pausing right now,” Silver told Andrews. “This virus will not be eradicated. And we’re going to have to learn to live with it.”

Heck, Wednesday’s Bulls-Raptors game is proof positive of that.

Despite the Raptors placing five more players into the protocols to bring their total to seven, including stalwarts like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors left for Chicago. That includes a border crossing, another tricky layer to this pandemic, so any postponement at this point is a longshot.

The Bulls also had a busy day. Between Devon Dotson landing in the protocols, Troy Brown Jr. exiting them and two more reported hardship signings in Mac McClurg and Ersan Ilyasova, their roster is in flux as well. Coach Billy Donovan has been praising the Bulls’ professionalism and flexibility all season.

It will be needed again Wednesday, even as players like Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson and Matt Thomas are moving closer to exiting protocols. They’re still listed as in, but they’re also listed as doubtful — not out — for Wednesday’s game.

While there is no expectation they’ll play — Donovan always pointed to their windows to return as opening after Christmas — they’re making progress.

As for the league’s progress, Silver said 65 percent of players have received booster shots and that his goal is for that number to match the league’s 97 percent vaccination rate. The commissioner also confirmed that the Omicron variant has landed throughout the league, which seemed obvious by the rapidly escalating case numbers.

“Beyond dominant,” Silver said, adding that the variant accounts for 90 percent of the league’s cases now.

While Silver reiterated no plans for a vaccine mandate, he did hint at the league perhaps following the NFL’s lead. That league recently moved to only testing symptomatic players as long as they’re vaccinated.

Silver didn’t say that, but did say the small number of breakthrough cases for boosted players and personnel have largely been asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms. Like the medical world, the league is studying how the virus affects those with breakthrough cases.

While too early to say when, Silver added the league is "actively looking" at amending its 10-day protocol mandate for vaccinated-and-boosted players who test positive in light of recent findings.

“It seems that the virus runs through their systems faster,” Silver said. “They become, not just asymptomatic, but more importantly they’re not shedding the virus.”

So this is not a matter of the league getting in its coveted — and lucrative — Christmas Day games and pausing. The show will go on.

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