New Challenges Face NBA Ahead Of Orlando Return
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – New challenges facing the NBA before it returns to Orlando are becoming public. Over the last several days, reports have emerged about a divided NBA Players Union regarding the league’s 22-team end of season plan. According to Yahoo Sports Chris Haynes, not all of the union’s players are on board with the league’s return.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that several players felt uncertain about resuming the NBA season. Issues regarding the league’s “bubble” plan and penalties for sitting out the remainder of the year were made public.
Now, with protests over racial injustice sweeping the nation, players are taking issue over the optics of finishing the season.
According to Haynes, some players are concerned about the plan of “a league comprised predominantly of black men to be sequestered in one location for up to three months merely to entertain the masses and ease the league’s economic burden.”
Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks reported that a call with a significant number of the league’s players is scheduled for Friday night to find a more unified stance.
MORE: I've spoken to multiple players, about 5 days ago there was a zoom call of about 50 players discussing what they can do to take a stand. They are planning another call tonight with about 150 players to solidify what that stand is and stress this only works if they unify. https://t.co/FsklmAiD1I
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 12, 2020
Dissent among the players may reveal issues within the Players Association’s power balance. In May, a group of NBA stars joined a conference call and formed a united front on the league’s return. However, some of the league’s lesser-known players are concerned that they weren’t consulted.
According to Haynes, some members of the union were concerned “that every player’s voice wasn’t heard for this critical and potentially life-changing vote.”
Kyrie Irving, the Players Associaton Vice President is reportedly leading the charge in organizing the calls to find a unified stance.
Adding to Taylor's report: I'm told today's conf call could involve up to 200 players. Also hearing that Kyrie Irving has been a driving force in organizing these calls, and in raising concerns over NBA's bubble plan. https://t.co/0voQafmveO
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 12, 2020
How Safe is the Bubble?
In addition to questions about the optics of returning, health concerns remain everpresent. While the NBA has touted The Walt Disney World Resort as a safe environment, new challenges are emerging.
According to NBC’s Tom Haberstroh, Disney staff may not be subject to the same safety protocols as the players.
Key component of NBA restart plans as cases surge in surrounding area:
Disney support staff, as of now, will NOT be subject to NBA's bubble protocols with daily testing/quarantine. They are free to go in and out of campus, per a Disney union official.https://t.co/unK5Fp38qD
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 12, 2020
“Disney workers have not been told to quarantine on campus, according to Eric Clinton, president of Disney’s labor union,” Haberstroh wrote.
“It was “unlikely” that staffers would be subject to daily testing and quarantine measures like NBA players and team staffers.”
The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted out a few fo the rules Disney employees will have to follow within the NBA environment.
Sources: Protocols for Disney staff working NBA return site:
– Always wearing facemasks/gloves
– Strict physical distancing, never within 6 feet of NBA participant
– Temperature/symptom checks
– Housekeeping staff will never be in the room at same time as NBA participants
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2020
Staff members will have to wear facemasks and gloves and observe social distancing guidelines. Additionally, Disney employees will have their temperature and symptoms checked. Housekeeping staff can only enter a player’s room when it’s been left vacant.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are surging in areas surrounding The Walt Disney World Resorts.
There were 78 positive COVID-19 tests in Orange County, Florida – the Orlando area, site of Disney, which plans to play host to the NBA and MLS restarts – yesterday, which means there's been 385 in the last seven days.
The seven days before that saw only 202 positive tests.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 9, 2020
A Clearer Timeframe
While questions surrounding the league’s return emerge, the NBA season’s timeline is becoming clearer. With the league set to begin play on July 30, players will return to their host cities in mid-June.
According to Wojnarowski, players who reside internationally must return to their teams by June 15. Players who have remained stateside must return by June 22.
NBA has instructed teams of full training camp timeline, including July 9-29 in Orlando with three intersquad scrimmages, sources tell ESPN. Again, season re-starts on July 30.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 12, 2020
Dates leading up to the league’s return remain fluid. First, training camps will resume in Orlando on July 9, rather than July 7. Training camp will run through July 29 and include three “intersquad scrimmages.”
Additionally, the season could now wrap up on October 13, rather than October 12. According to Wojnarowski, the league wants to avoid pitting game seven of the NBA Finals against the NFL’s Money Night Football broadcast.
As the NBA pushes to resume its season, it must first put its players at ease over the challenges it faces before retaking the floor.
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