NBA takes notes from China in hopes of avoiding doomsday scenario

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) argues a call in front of Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77
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Ricky Dimon

NBA · 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Can the 2019-20 NBA season be saved? Unless you are Dr. Anthony Fauci or some other expert in the medical field, your guess is probably as good—or probably bad to be more accurate—as anyone else’s. The NBA is +110 to play its next game on July 3 or earlier; it is +150 to play its next game after July 3.

During a 30-minute Instagram Live Q&A earlier this week, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry asked Fauci what needs to happen before we can start thinking about playing basketball again.

“That’s a great question, Steph,” praised the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “And that’s what we deal with on a daily basis when we sit down in the Situation Room in the White House every day to go over that. What you need is you need to see the trajectory of the curve start to come down…. The United States is a big country, we have so many different regions. New York City right now is having a terrible time and yet there are places in the country that are doing really quite well. You could probably identify people, contact-trace and get them out of circulation, whereas in New York City, it’s doing what’s called mitigation, trying to prevent as best you can, the spread.

“So a direct answer to your question, we can start thinking about getting back to some degree of normality when the country as a whole has turned that corner and start coming down. Then you can pinpoint cases much more easily than getting overwhelmed by cases, which is what’s going on in New York City.”

China, which was the original epicenter of the coronavirus, has been shut down since Jan. 24 (the NBA, by comparison, halted operations on March 12). The Chinese Basketball Association had hoped to resume in early April, initially moved that projection to April 15, and has now delayed it to late April or early May. In other words, the CBA’s hiatus will be at least three months long. According to various reports, the league is thinking about clustering all of its teams in just one or two cities and playing out the remainder or the regular season at a neutral site and without fans.

The NBA could do the same, opting for one or two centralized locations—at least in the short term before possibly opening things back up for each club to play inside its own venue. According to ESPN, potential non-NBA neutral locations include a sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, the Bahams, or a college campus in the Midwest where coronavirus cases are relatively low.

“I ain’t going for that s—,” Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James commented, referring to playing at one location and without fans. “I’m not going for that.”

He may not have a choice. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said in a recent interview that if the NBA does resume its season at some point in 2020, it is “almost 100 percent” that the arenas—at least to start with—will be empty.

And given that the Lakers are +100 favorites to win the Western Conference and +225 co-favorites to win the title, James should understand as well as anyone that any games in any location are a lot better than nothing.

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