NBA Commissioner Talks Requirements for Return, Charity Game

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Adam Silver spoke in an interview about the leagues’ measures to maneuver the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are many obstacles to overcome, Silver even spoke on the possibility of a charity competition – separate from the NBA season – for the dual purpose of entertaining anxious fans and contributing to efforts against coronavirus.

Unsure of how the NBA schedule will be composed should regular season and playoffs return, Silver acknowledged that the league is currently not entertaining the idea of canceling the season entirely. He did, however, speak to the possibility of this seasons hiatus wholly reshaping the NBA calendar as we know it.

Proposed Changes to the NBA Season

Since NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took over the role from his late predecessor David Stern, he’s always spoken warmly on the idea of changing the NBA schedule.

In fact, Silver has already made a number of changes to the NBA schedule that are more subtle:

  • Shortened pre-season, allowing an earlier start to the regular season.
  • Limited number of back-to-backs for all teams.
  • Moved the NBA Trade Deadline back a week to account for All-Star Break.

But to say that the NBA is done there would be short-sighted. In November the NBA made a public statement outlining some of its ideas for changes to the NBA calendar as soon as the 2021-2022 season. Some of those changes would include:

  • A reduction in regular season matches.
  • An in-season tournament.
  • A play-in event for the final two playoff spots, and re-seeding the conference finalists.

Reactions to the proposed changes to the season have been hot and cold. Players have been the most openly dismissive of the possible adjustments.

Criteria for a Return to Play

Before any scheduling changes can come to pass, Adam Silver was clear about what he and the league are considering before play can be restarted. Those criteria being:

Arena Control and Capacity

The average capacity of an NBA arena is 19,000 occupants. Silver has made it clear that commencement of building operations with such a population is incredibly detrimental to preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Average fan attendance has little to do with the matter, as North American Health Boards have ceased operations of many non-essential services. Arenas and entertainment centers, including NBA home arenas, fall within the criteria of non-essential.

Fan Attendance

The NBA has also contemplated the possibility of playing without attendance. While star asset LeBron James was cold and the quickly warm to the idea of playing without fans, it would certainly be an odd sight.

The concept of playing without fans wouldn’t be unprecedented. The Basketball Super League in Turkey and the AFL in Australia are already continuing their seasons without fans. The NBA would suffer great losses if they performed without fans, but not as much as if they failed to continue at all.

Alternate Programming

The third possibility that Adam Silver saw for a return to play would be through a fundraiser or community-oriented match. We have seen the NBA pursue opportunities like this before, like during the NBA Players Relief Game for Hurricane Katrina.

The NBA has recognized that there is a gap in the market at the moment for sports. Being the first to the line would be a massive achievement for the league and for sports as a whole during this period of quarantine and isolation. To say domestic sports programming in North America is limited at the moment would be an understatement.

When Will the NBA Return to Play?

The NBA shutdown its game operations on 11 March 2020. Coming up on two weeks since the last NBA match, fans are still within the minimum month-long hiatus expected by the NBA and well within the two-month suggestion by the CDC.

It is unlikely we will see the NBA return for at least another month. Until then, Adam Silver and league executives have much to decide before players, front offices, and fans will see their beloved league return to play.

NBA-Coronavirus FAQs

When will the NBA return to play?

The NBA and Adam Silver are optimistic that we will see the NBA return in mid-to-late June.

Has an NBA game ever been played without fans?

There has never been an NBA regular season or playoff game played without an audience.

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