The NBA is set to restart on July 30 after being on hiatus since March 11. Although league Commissioner Adam Silver is fairly confident the sport will safely resume, he admits that the spread of coronavirus within the NBA community could suspend the season again.
In a recent interview, Silver elaborated on the return to play as well as players kneeling during the national anthem.
During an appearance on “TIME 100 Talks,” Silver spoke about the NBA’s return to play scenario at the end of July. New York Times’ Marc Stein asked the commissioner if there was any chance the league doesn’t resume due to the rising coronavirus cases. Or, is it “full steam ahead” regardless of the circumstances.
“Never full steam ahead no matter what,” Silver told Stein. “One thing we are learning about this virus is [it’s] unpredictable. We and our players together with their union look at the data on a daily basis. If there were something to change that was outside the scope of what we are playing for… we would revisit our plans.”
“We are testing daily. We haven’t put a precise number on it. However, if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well,” Silver added.
Stein then asked what the commissioner believes constitutes a “significant” spread of coronavirus. Silver was unable to give a precise answer, although, he said the league will continue to consult scientists and other experts.
“We are going to see as we go. Certainly, if cases are isolated, that’s one thing. A lot of the determination will be our understanding of how our community became infected,” Silver replied. “That will be part of our judgment in terms of whether we should continue. But… if we had a lot of cases, we are going to stop. You cannot run from this virus.”
Recent reports say the league and the NBPA are working together to allow players to wear social justice messages on the back of their jerseys. Kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality, however, is a different story.
When asked if the league will allow kneeling, Silver said the NBA prohibits such actions. He did add, however, that demonstrations will be approached on a case-by-case basis.
“We’ve had a rule on our books that goes back to the early 80s, that precedes even David Stern’s tenure as commissioner, that calls for players to stand in a line at attention during the national anthem,” Silver said. “I also understand the role of protest, and I think that we’ll deal with that situation when it presents itself.”
Despite the lack of fans at games and the growing unrest following the death of George Floyd, the NBA still plans on playing the national anthem before each game.