The NBA’s plan to return to play in Orlando in late July has run into some opposition in the past week. Between concerns over health and safety, and a reluctance to distract from the protests still sweeping across the country, there’s a growing group of players that seem reluctant to head into the bubble environment at Disney World.
On Tuesday, the league received a reminder of the real risk everyone is facing. Nuggets coach Michael Malone revealed in an interview with CBS4 in Denver that he had the coronavirus back in March.
“On March 20 I started not feeling well. We reached out to our team doctors to see if I could get a test, but unfortunately at that time there were no tests available. I only found out after the fact. I was able to get an antibody test probably right around Memorial Day weekend and not surprisingly our team doctor called up that weekend and told me I tested positive.”
Malone was not the only member of the Nuggets organization to test positive for COVID-19, but thankfully everyone has recovered.
“It’s interesting on some people on our team, traveling party and staff got it,” said the 48-year old head coach. “I hope going to Orlando (for the resumption of the NBA season) will be a safe environment and we can limit the amount of people who get it. I like to say that I got coronavirus and I kicked its butt.”
While the NBA is putting together very stringent protocols to test players and staff to keep everyone healthy, they won’t be able to guarantee safety for anyone. That’s especially true considering it does not appear that Disney workers will be quarantining, and COVID-19 rates are skyrocketing in Florida.
Because of the risk associated with this plan, the league is sending a questionnaire to players and coaches to determine if they’re healthy enough to be in the bubble. There’s been particular concern about some of the older coaches, as three of them — Gregg Popovich (71), Mike D’Antoni (69) and Alvin Gentry (65) — are over 65 years old, which increases the risk factor associated with the virus.
So far, most coaches have been adamant about still being on the sidelines, and there haven’t been any players to request out specifically because of health reasons. If any do decide not to come, however, the league has agreed it will not be a breach of contract to sit out of the remainder of the season.