Finally, after three long, painful months, the NBA has a plan to resume play in the 2019-20 season. On Tuesday evening each team in the league was provided with a copy of Adam Silver’s 113-page battle plan for restarting basketball in Orlando on July 30.
Silver’s document covers everything anyone could possibly want to know about the NBA’s current intentions; covering everything from the league’s proposed testing types to the bizarre declaration that each player will receive enough decks of cards so that they can be disposed of after a single use.
Here are the most important takeaways as the league looks to reignite its season in just over a month.
Schedule and Format
22 teams have been invited to Orlando to participate in the league’s “bubble”. Those 22 teams will play eight “seeding” games against each other before the playoffs begin. If needed, there is also the option of a mini play-in tournament to decided the eighth seed in each conference.
The league has gone to the effort of breaking its restart schedule in to six distinct phases:
Phase 1: June 12-22
Players are allowed to return to their home market, but no later than June 22nd. Team facilities are open for voluntary individual workouts, however there are still no team activities allowed.
Players are expected to remain quarantined at home when not going to the facilities or “other essential activities”.
Phase 2: June 23-30
Workout and quarantine rules remain the same, however teams will be required to start testing players and staff for COVID-19.
All teams are to hold educational sessions for staff and players.
Phase 3: July 1-July 9-11
Individual workouts for players are now mandatory. No group activities are allowed, though, and all players and staff are to continue their quarantine when not at the facility.
Testing will also continue. Teams are to begin traveling to Orlando between July 7 and 9. Upon arrival all players must isolate in hotel rooms until they return two negative COVID tests.
Phase 4: July 9-11-July 21
Group and team practices and activities are now allowed.
Players and staff will be regularly tested and are only allowed to spend time with people within their same hotel. Social gatherings are limited to specific areas; no players are allowed in any other player’s room.
Phase 5: July 22-29
All practices and workouts continue, with teams beginning to undertake scrimmages against each other.
Each team will play three scrimmages in this phase, with all regular testings to continue as usual. Players and staff will be allowed to congregate with whoever they want once scrimmages begin, however meals should be eaten outside.
Phase 6 (Restart Phase): July 30-End of season
Regular season begins on July 30.
All Phase 5 rules remain in place, with the addition that any player who wishes to leave the “bubble” will go through additional testing and quarantine.
The league is placing an enormous emphasis on technology in order to keep the players and staff safe healthy. There are a number of measures being taken to track activity and prevent infection.
“Magic Bands” – Every single person on campus is required to wear one of these bands. Essentially, they are bracelets that act as hotel room keys, checkpoint passes and medical check-ins.
Proximity Alarms – Each team and league staff will need to use one of these alarms, which will sound whenever a wearer is within six feet of someone else for a period longer than 5 seconds. These alarms will not collect any personal data (GPS etc.)
Biometric Ring – These rings are available to players, and can record things like body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate etc. Ideally, these rings could alert teams if a player is at risk of contracting COVID.
Unsurprisingly, the NBA’s planned testing regime is rigourous. All players and staff will be required to undergo frequent COVID tests, with those to initially take the form of a PCR test and antibody test and then subsequently just a PCR test.
The league will also be facilitating a study by Yale University in to saliva testing; players will be able – if they so choose – to provide Yale with a saliva sample which should create a quicker, more non-invasive COVID testin.
The league will be implementing a number of measures to ensure players are protected whilst they are on the court.
Disinfected Basketballs – Staff will be required to disinfect every basketball prior to use in practice, workouts, scrimmages and games. There are strict instructions for how this process is to be carried out.
Good Hygiene – The league is mandating players take certain measures to avoid contamination on the court. Licking fingers, clearing the nose and spitting are all prohibited at all times; mouthguards should not be removed and jersey swaps are not allowed.
Masks – Everyone present at games – with the exception of players, officials, the PA announcer and statistician – will be required to wear masks at all times.
Another big aspect of this bubble is the food situation. Everyone is particular about what they eat, but professional athletes are on a different level when it comes to nutrition. In what should come as little surprise, players and staff members are not allowed to share food on campus and are asked to wash their hands before and after eating.
Here are some of the other guidelines regarding the food situation.
Eating meals – Until Phase 5, players may only eat meals with other players or staff in their hotel. After this they will then be allowed to eat with anyone on campus. However, there are still guidelines. e.g. eating inside, they are to sit six feet apart, and if eating with someone from a different hotel, that meal must take place outside.
Restaurants and delivered food – The NBA and Disney are working to open some restaurants on campus at a limited capacity, but full details have not been properly set out on that front. Delivery will be allowed until at least Phase 6 and possibly longer. Any chef preparing a player’s food outside of campus must certify that they are only engaged in essential activities, are following FDA guidelines, and provide detailed information about their food preparation and delivery process. Even then, the delivered food containers must be sanitized by a staff member. In short, food may be delivered, but it’s not “delivery” in the sense that regular people would understand it.
Practices and games – Whenever possible, bottled beverages during practices and games should be labeled for individual use. Single-use food and drink items will be available for players in an open space.
Written and produced by SportsTips.com
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