As players mull skipping the NBA’s return, the league’s restart plan has a very important backer.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on coronavirus, called the NBA’s bubble plan at Disney’s Wide World of Sport complex in Orlando “quite creative” and one that could be the framework for how sports can move forward during the pandemic.
“I think they might very well be successful with it — is to create a situation where it is as safe as it possibly could be for the players by creating this bubble,” Fauci told Stadium on Saturday. “Essentially testing everybody, make sure that you start with a baseline of everybody being negative and trying to make sure that there is no influx into that cohort of individuals and do a tournament-type play.”
The NBA is slated to restart its season in a bubble scenario, with training camps beginning June 30 and the season reopening July 31 with a 22-team playoff format. With coronavirus and healthy safety details still to be ironed out, some players are still uneasy about the whole thing.
Nets star Kyrie Irving, the vice president of the union, led a call with more than 80 players on Friday, pushing for them to not show up for the restart as a way to help stand for social justice reform after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in May. If they do choose to go, Fauci — the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — believes they will do so under a “sound plan” others could emulate.
“I was very pleased to see that the intent was not reckless at all,” Fauci said. “They really wanted to make sure that the safety of the players and the people associated with the players was paramount. So I think that you might be able to do something like that with basketball. Could you extrapolate that to some of the other sports possibly? I think they should look at that model, see how it works, and then take it from there.”
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