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Coronavirus: NBA may need bubble for 2020-21 season – Roberts

By Sacha Pisani

Los Angeles, July 29: National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Michele Roberts said the league could be forced to remain in a bubble for the 2020-21 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA is set to restart via a 22-team format behind closed doors in Orlando, Florida on Thursday (July 30) after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed in March due to the COVID-19 crisis.

As the NBA prepares to resume following the coronavirus-enforced break with the New Orleans Pelicans meeting the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Los Angeles Clippers, Roberts believes the league might have to stay in its current format next season.

"If tomorrow looks like today, I don't know how we say we can do it differently," Roberts told ESPN on Tuesday.

"If tomorrow looks like today, and today we all acknowledge -- and this is not Michele talking, this is the league, together with the PA and our respective experts saying, 'This is the way to do it' -- then that's going to have to be the way to do it."

There have been more than 16 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and at least 660,400 deaths.

In the United States, over 152,000 people have died from almost 4.5 million casualties.

The MLS is Back Tournament has started in Orlando, while the MLB is attempting to play out a 60-game regular season after getting underway last week.

Baseball has already been rocked by a COVID-19 outbreak within the Miami Marlins organisation, suspending the team's season through to Sunday.

"I'm not in the [Donald] Trump camp in believing it's all going to go away in two weeks, but I'm praying, praying that there will be a different set of circumstances that will allow us to play in a different way," Roberts said.

"But because I don't know, all I know is what I know now. So it may be that, if the bubble is the way to play, then that is likely gonna be the way we play next season, if things remain as they are. I hope not. Because I'd like to think that people can live with their families. But I can only comment on what I know, and what I know is right now."

On the NBA bubble, Roberts added: "I was worried that it was going to appear a little too much like an armed camp. I really was. I said, 'Look. You can't incarcerate people. Even if it's a pretty prison, if it's a prison, it's still a prison.'

"But having gotten here, sure there's some things [that you have to do] -- having to take your temperature, and the testing. But it could not be easier.

"For me to comply with the health and safety protocols, obviously I have to wear a mask and all that, but the affirmative things you have to do are really simple, and the facilities where the players are able to play and work out are absolutely consistent with the quality that they need to have and are accustomed to using.

"The medical facilities and the physicians on campus, I'm not worried about anyone getting sick and not being able to get absolutely immediate health care. So, no, I am completely satisfied that we've come up with the right protocol.

"Nothing is perfect, and knock on wood every day and cross my fingers every day that no one has gotten infected since we've been here. But this is clearly, we've happened upon the way to play. And the players are largely cool with it."

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Read more about: nba coronavirus basketball
Story first published: Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 6:40 [IST]
Other articles published on Jul 29, 2020
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