Silver: Next steps? Everything is on the table

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says ‘everything is on the table’ as the league considers next steps amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NBA playoffs, under normal circumstances, would begin this weekend with a slate of first-round games Saturday and Sunday.

But with these being anything but normal circumstances, due to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down sport, the economy and much of society, the prospect of resuming in some form what’s left of the NBA regular season still is among the league’s options.

“Everything is on the table,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a conference call with media on Friday afternoon, after the annual spring Board of Governors meeting was held via video conference earlier in the day.

“The direction that the league office has received from our teams is that all rules are off at this point,” Silver said. “If there is an opportunity to resume play, even if it looks different from what we’ve done historically, we should be modelling it.”

Any restart will push the completion of this 2019-20 season past the traditional end date in mid-to-late June. It’s even possible the NBA would bump the start of next season deeper into the calendar to accommodate what’s left of this one.

One incentive in playing at least some regular-season games is that it would turn the league’s lights back on in all 30 markets, restoring some semblance of normality for itself and entertainment for its fans after this harrowing period. The traditional playoff format of 16 teams would leave nearly half the franchises dark until 2020-21.

More on this story

Silver stressed multiple times, however, that none of them – the teams, the players, NBA headquarters – can control, for now, whatever comes next.

“We don’t have a good enough understanding of exactly what those standards are that we need to meet in order to move forward,” he said. “The experts don’t necessarily either.”

As models for the coronavirus’ spread and impact change from day to day, as US governors face reopening decisions based on uncertain (in the absence of widespread testing) infection and recovery rates, Silver said the NBA is left to balance the health of its employees and fans with the economic realities faced by its teams and what he estimated as 55,000 jobs dependent on the league.

Last week in a #NBATogether interview with “Inside the NBA” host Ernie Johnson streamed on Twitter, Silver said decisions about the business of basketball would be on hold at least through April.

Any timeline update on Friday? “It’s about the data and not the date,” the commissioner said, crediting those words to Disney chairman Bob Iger, a guest on Friday’s conference with the owners.

Silver added: “We are not in a position to make any decisions and it’s unclear when we will be.”

Asked to describe the tone of Friday’s tech-style meeting, Silver spoke of the “roll-up-your-sleeve, can-do attitude” of the successful businessmen and entrepreneurs who own sports franchise. But he acknowledged “a fair amount of angst” and frustration too, given what anyone actually can do about the virus’ spread and impact.

Silver spoke of the symbolism attached to sports, and how the NBA – which led most sports enterprises and much of the culture in taking the extreme precaution of suspending play on March 11 – would like to play a lead role in the eventual comeback.

Toward the end of the media session, however, some of the harsh realities faced in this country over the past five weeks, into an undetermined future, demanded comment. That included the NBA, a $7billion industry that ground to a halt.

“Our revenue in essence has dropped to zero,” Silver said. “That’s having a huge financial impact on the team business and the arena business.

“While this virus is, of course, a dire public health issue, so of course is shutting down the economy. I think it’s why the league sees it as our obligation, to the extent we can resume play in a safe way, to look at every potential way of doing so. That’s what we’re doing now.”

Want to watch even more of the NBA but don’t have Sky Sports? Get the Sky Sports Action and Arena pack, click here.

Source : Sky Sports