The NBA has laid out its plans for teams and players to restart the season in Disney only a month from now.
Some of the unique perks athletes and teams will get while at Disney are game rooms, golf course access, cabanas, fishing areas, bowling alley access, backstage tours, and even salon services.
Although these circumstances may sound more like a vacation, the NBA has stressed its focus on the safety of its teams through a written memo and handbook. Players have been told they will be tested regularly amid the coronavirus pandemic. They must also stick to strict rules regarding social distancing and mask-wearing policies.
The NBA, as well as the National Basketball Players Association, have been working together to best formulate the terms of the restart. They have been avid in seeking professional advice from medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has found fame during the battle against COVID-19.
Last Tuesday, the NBA released a 108-page file describing its new medical protocols. Many of its terms have sparked conversation, such as players needing to shower in their individual hotel rooms instead of practice arenas. It is also recommended that coaches wear face masks before and after the game, or whenever possible.
The NBA expects to see a small number of coronavirus cases as the season begins, but without a large spike in cases, they do not foresee a need to suspend or cancel the resumption of the 2019-20 season.
The Game Plan
The majority of NBA teams will arrive in Florida during the week of July 6. A reputable source claims the Toronto Raptors, the only NBA team not based in the U.S., will be allowed to gather for pre-camp workouts before coming to Florida.
The Raptors must follow the strict guidelines pertinent to other teams in the city, making it difficult as current Canadian regulations call for a 14-day quarantine period after travel. It is suggested they will train in Florida to avoid having to travel back and forth, although no official deal or statement has been made.
The NBA’s Disney campus has been labeled as a bubble considering the intense safety measures being implemented throughout the property. Nobody on the property will be allowed in anyone else’s bedroom to avoid cross-contamination.
One, and possibly more, health care companies are joining the NBA in providing athletes with a medical clinic on campus. This would be extremely useful in that injured or ill athletes would not have to leave the premises to get health care as the medical clinic will even include X-ray and MRI capabilities.
The memo released by the NBA also specifies how training rooms, meeting rooms, and practice-courts, and even laundry will be cleaned and handled. The practice court will function on a tight three-hour block schedule in which deep cleaning and sanitizing will take place for an hour between each team’s block.
Adam Silver, the NBA’s commissioner, said that if a player decides they feel uncomfortable playing at Disney, they do not have to report with their team. Silver claims that whether the reason pertains to a player’s health or their stance on current social-justice issues, athletes who choose not to participate will not be disciplined.
Their only direct loss would be the salary for missed games. Silver’s actions have been met with praise as he has exemplified the NBA’s ability to listen and care for their players.
Each of the 22 teams invited is expected to play eight games before the playoffs begin at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Teams will be dispersed and sleep in three different hotels, as well as play in three arenas.
The NBA also plans to begin new initiatives like having mental health resources accessible to players and coaches, as well as meditation and even more meals on game days. Teams are allowed to bring 35 people maximum, including players, executives, athletic trainers, and security. The cap is to ensure everyone’s health and safety.