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What you need to know about COVID-19: October 1, 2020
Basketball moved closer to a return on Friday with the NBA and its players expressing caution as well as confidence that their Orlando-based plan for a July 30 restart will work.
Agreement was reached between the NBA and the NBA Players Association “on health and safety protocols that will govern the resumption of the season. The rigorous program, which addresses risks related to COVID-19 and focuses on the well-being of players, coaches, officials and staff, was developed in consultation with public health experts, infectious disease specialists and government officials.”
Both sides also agreed with Disney that all games will take place with no fans at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and union player heads Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala were on a conference call with the media on Friday afternoon ahead of the release of the schedule.
“My ultimate conclusion is we can’t outrun the virus, and we are going to be living with this for the foreseeable future,” Silver said. “Which is why we designed the campus the way we did.”
Roberts says about the proposed return “We needed to make sure we could mitigate as much as possible … a lot of hard work (went into it).” Roberts credited everyone for all of that work, including Raptors all-star Kyle Lowry and Toronto native Dwight Powell, of the Dallas Mavericks, amongst others.
“We go into the (return) optimistic … I am proud and pleased that the league is joining hands with us,” Roberts said.
“We never pictured ourselves playing in this situation,” Paul admitted. “The top priority (though) is health and safety,” Paul said, pointing to mental health as much as physical. He credit the work of Kevin Love and long-time Toronto star DeMar DeRozan for pushing mental health concerns forward and into the open in recent years.
Silver said there would be daily testing, “at least to start” and that one positive test wouldn’t shut things down, no matter the caliber of player and said it’s still being established about how many people would have to test positive for another shutdown to occur. “If there is a significant spread, that may lead to us to stopping play,” he said. Silver said the league and its players are working closely with government officials as well as with Disney to try to get Disney employees who would be going in and out of the campus tested more frequently.
On the conference call and in the media release there was considerable talk of “strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community.”
On the call, Silver said: “We think this is a unique opportunity for many reasons. I’m reluctant to make promises. Ultimately, we should be judged by our actions. We may be the most uniquely qualified organization in the world to effect change.”
Earlier Friday, the NBA revealed that 302 players were tested on June 23 and 16 have tested positive for COVID-19. Silver said on the call that they were relieved that none of the 16 were seriously ill.
The defending champion Toronto Raptors are already in a different part of Florida, having arrived in Fort Myers on Monday. Group workouts will only begin once teams have reported to the NBA Campus at Disney.
A whopping 22.3% of COVID-19 tests from Thursday in Collier County, Fla. were positive. Fort Myers is part of Collier County.
Teams participating will be the eight = from each conference with the highest current winning percentage, along with six that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference. Each will play eight “seeding games” to conclude its “regular season.”
Once the seeding games are completed seven teams in each conference will be seeded 1-7 in their conference for the playoffs. There will be a process to determine the two No. 8 seeds that could involve a play-in tournament if teams behind them are close enough.
Further, “If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference (Team 8) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference (Team 9), then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9.
“The NBA’s standard playoff tiebreaker procedures will be used to break any ties on the basis of winning percentage. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The 2020 NBA Finals will end no later than Oct. 13.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020