It is time for the NBA to call off the 2019-20 season
That's right: it's time for the NBA to cancel the 2019-20 season.
I've been circling this determination for weeks, and since the league announced plans this month to resume the Walt Disney World season in July, every concern we've shared has come to fruition.
And then some.
We have reached double-digit numbers in the number of players who have already tested positive for coronavirus after reporting teams for individual training sessions. Citing a myriad of reasons, several players decided against participating in the 22-team restart that is scheduled to begin on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. COVID-19 cases have exploded in Orlando, Florida, the city around the single. Location. And a number of players are concerned about distracting from the ongoing social justice movement.
That sums up the worst, but there are many other reasons why it is a terrible idea to push hundreds of people into one of the country's largest coronavirus hotspots to do an indoor contact sport. There's really only one reason to think about it, and it has nothing to do with player safety. When Memphis Grizzlies striker Justise Winslow reported on his Instagram story "All About The Benjamins, Baby" last week.
The financial incentives are incredibly tempting (an estimated $ 1 billion between team owners and players) and a worthy conversation, but the NBA is far from important. There are players who live from paycheck to paycheck, as hard as it may be to believe in a sport that pays the least experienced among them a minimum wage of $ 898,310, but the richest players have the game's return in Coordination with billionaires, who could easily afford to pay all employees by 2020.
According to researchers at Opportunity Insights at Harvard University, now is probably a good time to say that the highest-income Americans have cut spending disproportionately during the pandemic.
The owners of the NBA team will destroy the current collective agreement according to its force majeure clause if the season does not resume. This takes advantage of the future financial insecurity towards the players and may reset potential earnings by a decade. But franchisees are likely to enact the clause anyway. It's a no-brainer to do the right thing by the players, but the majority of white team owners who negotiate for a larger percentage of their majority black employees' income is a public relations nightmare. The players also have leverage.
But enough about collective bargaining. There are bigger concerns.
Washington Wizards striker Davis Bertans quoted one of them on Monday and is said to have declined the rest of the season as a "preventative measure" against potential health risks while playing in Orlando. Bertans will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will earn a significant increase from his current salary of $ 7 million. In other words, he is financially motivated not to play and to stay healthy.
Not only do gamers have to worry about coronavirus infection, they are also at increased risk of injury after a long layoff. Many players were unable to participate in their usual off-season training routine during the pandemic. Even those who have managed to stay conditioned now have only three weeks of training camps to get in game form before jumping straight into the high stakes competition on a shortened schedule.
This is not how the NBA is supposed to work.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly expressed concern over Florida's rising COVID-19 statistics. (Stacy Revere / Getty Images)
A typical example: Portland Trail Blazers striker Trevor Ariza also signed out of Orlando on Monday to spend a month with his 12-year-old son in a custody battle, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This is just one example of how restarting the league forces players to choose between their families and their jobs. Ariza is reported to lose up to $ 1.8 million if she chooses not to play.
This is far from what the players originally signed up for. Families are only allowed to join players in Orlando on August 30, when the second round of playoffs begins. Even then, each team is only assigned 17 additional hotel rooms for 17 duty rosters. Players could quarantine for more than seven weeks without seeing their families in one of the most volatile times in the country's history.
There are people who say that it is the players' job to play and they are paid well for it. Some players have even expressed a desire to play to maximize the amount of money they can pour back into their community as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, and that's commendable. The NBA could have an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of social justice in Orlando.
However, there are at least the same number of players who have publicly expressed their belief that restarting the NBA could distract from a move in which so many of their peers were at the forefront. Kyrie Irving is among them. The injured Brooklyn Nets star coordinated a conference call to allow simple members to raise concerns about game resumption, ranging from social justice to extended family absence and fear of the coronavirus. (Oh, don't worry, we're coming to COVID-19.)
Los Angeles Lakers teammates, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard, also shared reservations about leaving their communities during global racial injustice protests to continue the NBA season. Bradley signed out of Orlando on Tuesday, citing both his continued support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the health of his 6-year-old son, who is reported to have respiratory problems.
My finding from reported calls in the conference call that nearly a fifth of the NBA players attended was that they previously felt unheard. There is no telling how many of a group of superstars feel pressured to take part in Orlando, who unanimously approved the resumption of the season before the temperature in the league was measured. Superstars are also among those who will benefit the most from the 2019-20 campaign. The players' association also unanimously agreed to further discuss the restart of the league with 22 teams in early June. However, the two teams didn't come to a formal agreement until Tuesday, when the wheels were moving and a timeline forced a decision.
In the hours after the deal was announced on Tuesday, news surfaced that at least seven players tested positive for COVID-19. Four nameless members of a Western Conference playoff team, two Phoenix Suns, and Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic were reportedly not released for reporting to their teams.
Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and Sacramento Kings striker Jabari Parker publicly released positive coronavirus tests on Wednesday. Another Kings player is also said to have tested positive.
Players with the virus will need to be quarantined for two more weeks and will be required to start training camp in Orlando on July 11th. Although no player has had any experience with life-threatening symptoms from the virus, there is ample evidence that COVID-19 can be fatal to relatively young and otherwise healthy adults, even if the odds are in their favor. Some have had strokes. Long-term effects of the virus are relatively unknown, but both brain and lung damage are potential problems, and there's no way of knowing how players with the virus will react now in August.
A 113-page memo that the NBA sent to the teams last week outlined extensive testing guidelines and outbreak precautions. However, the Disney employees who are responsible for providing services to players and coaches are among those who are not under the same control. Epidemiologists have expressed serious doubts that the NBA can keep the virus at bay. Many of these employees also request that Disney and government officials rethink the planned reopening of the amusement park next month.
Orlando experiences an explosion of the corona virus. Florida broke records every day, reporting more than 5,500 new cases on Wednesday. Orlando is the second most affected city in the state. Given its consultation with infectious disease experts, the NBA should have known that the early decision by Florida governor Ron DeSantis to reopen the economy increased the risk of this explosion.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed the rising COVID-19 statistics and recently gave a “determined but somber” tone when calling team leaders, which raised concern at all levels of the league, reported ESPN's Baxter Holmes and Zach Lowe on Saturday when Florida reported 4,000 new cases.
"It seems almost impossible to imagine that the virus will not get into the bladder," Washington University epidemiology professor Jared Baeten told Yahoo Sports Henry Bushnell, "given the increasing number of cases."
An outbreak of the National Women's Soccer League Orlando Pride, which forced the team to withdraw from the league's Challenge Cup, raised concerns about false negative tests that could spread the virus like wildfire among teammates and opponents in close contact could. European football was founded to avoid serious outbreaks. In the past 24 hours, however, there have been almost as many positive tests in Orlando as in the whole of Germany in the past two weeks. The outbreak that forced a Russian team to deploy substitutes last week is more analogous to the NBA restart.
The chances of crowning an illegitimate NBA champion have increased significantly over the past week. We may have already reached the turning point as withdrawn players slashed the Lakers' chances of winning the title and further weakened the playoff prospects for the Wizards and Blazers. More players can sign out by July 1st. On the other hand, there may be other players available who would have missed the regularly scheduled playoffs. And, according to Wojnarowski, some teams outside of the playoffs are planning to treat Orlando as an "expanded summer league for developing young players and protecting veterans."
There is also a real possibility that COVID-19 will take more players out of the game at the start of the season. What if a quarantined superstar misses an entire playoff series? Or is an entire rotation blocked? Every champion outside of the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks faces eyebrows raised, and skepticism might even follow the favorites if one of these players' players is unavailable.
The risk of a watered down product at the expense of player safety is great.
And God forbid that a single person dies from the consequences of restarting the NBA from coronavirus, regardless of whether a service representative passes it on to a player and family members, or vice versa. There is no financial incentive for the league to justify this. Overall, it would be much better for the NBA to cancel this season now and prioritize a safe return to the 2020-21 campaign than to cancel it in September.
History will remember this time in our lives for completely different reasons than those who won an NBA ring in 2020.
Kenny Smith talks about restarting the NBA
Two-time NBA champion Kenny "The Jet" Smith explains how the NBA will return to the games while continuing to take care of the safety of its players.
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Ben Rohrbach is an employee at Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach
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