It appears NBA players aren’t as anxious to return to the basketball courts as perhaps fans and sportsbooks would have liked. At the end of last month, the NBA announced a plan that would allow teams to start holding limited practices provided the team’s home state had lifted its coronavirus stay-at-home order, allowing a return beginning May 8.
Despite the easing of public restrictions already in a couple of states, NBA players have politely said, “thanks, no thanks,” and won’t be donning their uniforms for a return anytime soon.
NBA Players Remain Benched Because Of COVID-19
Brian Windhorst of ESPN broke the bad news to the basketball community on a SportsCenter broadcast, explaining that some franchises simply aren’t willing to get back on the court.
He explained, “Two teams that I talked to this morning that are in states where the stay-at-home orders have been lifted are not intending to open their facilities by Friday. A third team that I talked to canvassed its players on a Zoom call last week, and the majority did not want the facility to re-open.”
To be fair, the players aren’t the only ones who are a little hesitant about getting a little hoops action, going, even if there is a limit of four players on the court at one time. There’s a lot at stake for the teams, and they’re going to do whatever they have to do to protect their million-dollar assets. In some cases, team owners like Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks are making the decision. Cuban told the Dallas Morning News, “We listen to health experts, not politicians. When the NBA provides us with confirmation that it’s safe for our guys to move forward, we will move forward.”
It isn’t yet clear which teams might be benching their players until the air is cleared. There is definitive word that one team is the Atlanta Hawks, which made its position known as soon as the league passed down its new protocols. Georgia was a trend-setter, lifting its ban on non-essential businesses ahead of everyone else.
There’s Still A Long Road Ahead
One thing is a given – everyone wants their sports back. However, there’s not much sense in trying to rush things back to normal if it could only lead to additional fallout down the road. However, the good news is that the number of cases of severe coronavirus infections has diminished and it seems that science is doing its part to find a vaccine that works. The general consensus remains, though, that it could be at least another month before any real progress in the sports world is seen.
That progress will come at some point, and the NBA is more determined than ever to finish the 2019-20 season. Even if it means not picking up where it left off in March until September, the show must go on. A September restart would force the following season to delay its launch, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The coronavirus has upended things in a way no one could have ever expected, and there isn’t a single generally acceptable solution that could be applied to the situation. As stressful as things are for the sports world, it’s time to take the punches and figure out how best to bounce back.
The CEO of the Orlando Magic confirmed the league’s position while speaking to an Orange County, FL business taskforce today. Alex Martins asserted, “Our league has decided that we’re going to try to get in as much of our season and playoffs as the data will allow us to. We’ll play as late as Labor Day if we have to and even delay, as was reported this past week, we’ve been having initial discussions about even delaying the start of next season based on trying to get as much as this season in as possible.”
Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other
The return of NBA practices, even on a reduced level, may not be a huge step, but it is a step all the same. It’s a step toward rebuilding the league, as well as the entire sports world, and a step toward the future. At this point, the best alternative is to continue to put one foot in front of the other, taking things one step at a time, until some type of normalcy can be restored.
It isn’t going to be a 100-meter dash for the finish line, though, everyone will have to be prepared for a marathon run that requires a great deal of stamina.