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With NBA season on the line, Silver shoots for May decision

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league was still considering resuming play without fans, whether in NBA arenas, at practice facilities or at a single site in tournament-style playoffs. getty images/afp

With NBA season on the line, Silver shoots for May decision

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he thinks it will be at least May before any decision can be made about resumption of the 2019-2020 season that was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Essentially, what I’ve told my folks over the last week is that we just should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said on Monday in an interview that was live streamed on the NBA’s Twitter account.

“And I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be,” he added.

The NBA was the first major US pro-sports league to halt games, shutting down the season on the night of March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for the virus.

The NBA regular season was set to end on April 15, with the playoffs due to start on April 18 heading toward the June NBA Finals.

With continuing uncertainty over how the virus will continue to spread and when it might be contained, Silver said no decision had been made as to whether to try to complete the regular season or possibly go straight to the playoffs.

Nor has the league homed in on scenarios such as staging a tournament-style playoffs in a single location, in one recent report possibly Las Vegas.

“I don’t want to leave the suggestion that we’re not doing everything we possibly can to restart under the right circumstances,” Silver said.

However, he noted that once play can resume, the options won’t be unlimited.

“I will say, as I look out into the summer there does come a point where we would start impacting next season,” he said.

Silver said the league was still considering resuming play without fans, whether in NBA arenas, at practice facilities or at a single site in tournament-style playoffs.

One report suggested that the league was considering Las Vegas for such a tournament.

“There’s been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament.

“We’re in listening mode right now. We’ve been contacted by many of those jurisdictions to ask what our level of interest is.

“But there’s just too much unknown right now.

“The health of everyone involved in the NBA has to come first,” he said.

Silver said he didn’t imagine when he made the call to shut down the league on March 11 that much of the US would soon be under shelter-at-home orders as Covid-19 cases and deaths shot up in hubs including Seattle and New York.

“There wasn’t any of the widespread view that our country would in essence be entirely shut down over the next several weeks,” he said.

“The fact is sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then.”

Silver noted that the NBA, and sports in general, were among the first US businesses to cease operations as health authorities counselled social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

‘Can’t compromise safety’

He said he told President Donald Trump, who held a conference call with Silver and other major US sports league leaders on Saturday, that he believed “all the leagues share this view that we would love to be part of the movement to restart the economy.

“Of course that can’t come in a way that would compromise safety,” he added.

While Silver remains concerned about the economic effect a more extended shut down will have on 55,000 people employed in the NBA – many of them on a game-day basis – he also said the increased use of technology for virtual meetings and such had led the league to explore “more virtual ways that people could experience the game.

“How can we now think about opportunities using this downtime to re-express this experience for our fans?” Silver said.

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