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Players Testing Positive, Opting Out Of The Season – Here’s What It’s Going To Be Like In The Orlando Bubble When The NBA Returns

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The NBA has released its schedule to resume professional basketball and has shared deets on what life will be like inside the league’s bubble in Orlando. Find out all the deets on what life will be like for the NBA inside…

On March 11th, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended the 2019-2020 NBA season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were the first players confirmed to have tested positive for the virus. In an effort to slow down the spread, the season was put on hold with the quickness and fans have been patiently waiting to see when/if the season would return.

After months of planning, the NBA is now ready to make a comeback.

The NBA Comeback begins on Thursday, July 30th at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. And it’s a #WholeNewGame. The league has created its own "bubble" in Orlando so players can finish out the remaining for the season.

The NBA just released its complete game schedule and national television schedules for TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV for the “seeding games,” which will be played July 30th – August 14th to tip off the resumption of the 2019-20 season. The 22 teams participating in the season restart will play eight seeding games each at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The team-by-team schedules for the seeding games are below:

You can check out the full schedule here.  There are eight teams who didn't make it to the playoffs, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, and Golden State Warriors. They will not be playing in Orlando.

Below is a thread of the full breakdown of how the remaining of the 2019-2020 season will go:

The NBA created a 108-page “health and safety protocols for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season” document that extensively details the rules, regulations and requirements. 

The health and safety protocols are divided into six phases (via USA Today):

Highlights of phase 1 (June 12-22)

• Players outside of the country should have returned to their home market by Monday and all other players must report to their home market by June 22.

• Once in their home market, players are expected to stay at home and only leave the house for training, treatment or essential activities.

• Players are “strongly recommended to take coronavirus testing” if offered by the team.

• Players should wear masks or cloth face coverings at all times when not at home, except while working out at the team facility.

• Staffers should remain at least 12 feet away from players when possible.

Highlights of phase 2 (June 23-30)

• Teams will begin mandatory COVID-19 testing for players and staff. The long nasal swab will not be used for testing. Instead, testing will “consist of a shallow nasal swab and oral swab (COVID-19 PCR test) and a blood draw (serology/antibody test),” the NBPA memo said.

• “If any PCR or antibody tests return positive, then the player will be contacted by his team immediately and required to self-isolate and follow guidance provided by the team doctor, which may include additional tests and screening. If a household member tests positive, the player may be required to quarantine as well to be monitored for symptoms and undergo additional testing.”

• Teams will name the 36 individuals it will bring to the NBA campus. Highlights of phase 3 (July 1-9)

• Individual workouts are now mandatory, but no more than eight players will be permitted and group workouts are not allowed.

• Health and safety measures, and mask and distancing protocols remains the same.

Highlights of phase 4A (July 7-11)

• Teams will arrive in Orlando, and for players to travel, they must not have tested positive for COVID-19, or if they have, “satisfied the criteria for the discontinuation of quarantine.”

• Upon arrival, players and staff will isolate in their rooms until they return two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. If both tests are negative, the player will no longer have to isolate.

• Players will have the option of wearing, “proximity alarm that will notify a player if he spends more than 5 seconds within 6 feet of another person on campus who is also wearing an alarm. All team and league staff (potentially excluding referees) must wear the alarm; it is optional for players. Players will also have the option of wearing an Oura smart ring that may help with the early detection of the coronavirus and will track temperature, respiratory and heart rate, and other measures.”

• Beginning July 7, anti-drug testing will resume but only for performance-enhancing drugs and diuretics. There will be no testing for recreational substances.

Highlights of phase 4B (July 9-July 21)

• COVID-19 testing continues.

• Players may eat meals and socialize only with individuals staying at their hotel as long as they maintain social distancing.

• Players are not allowed to enter each other’s hotel rooms.

• Disney chefs will provide daily meals and room service will be available.

• Players are expected to remain on campus but they are not prevented from leaving. If a player leaves without approval, he will be subjected to deep nasal swab testing, 10-14 day quarantine and reduction in pay.

• "At all times on the court, players must avoid spitting or clearing their nose, wiping the ball with their jersey, licking their hands, and unnecessarily touching their mouthguard," according to the memo.

Highlights of phase 5 (July 22-29)

• Teams will play three scrimmages.

• Players are allowed to socialize with players and team staffers staying at other hotels.

Highlights of phase 6 (July 30-Oct. 13)

• Basketball resumes with conclusion of regular season and playoffs.

• Once a team’s season ends, a player must have a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of scheduled departure.

• Each team that plays beyond the first round can reserve up to 17 rooms for guests of players. Players are responsible for the cost and all guests must undergo three days of self-quarantine in a house or hotel in team’s home market and then four days of self-quarantine at the NBA campus as long as the person does not have a positive COVID-19 test.


On Friday, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association revealed 16 players have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the first wave of mandatory tests completed to prep for the restart of the season. 302 players in total were tested during the first wave, which means about 5.3% rate of positive tests leaguewide.

These players will self-isolate until they’re cleared by a physician. Their names have not been disclosed, but some players – including Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Parker and Alex Len – revealed they tested positive recently.  Players do not have to participate in the restart if they do not want to.

“Any player who exercises this right will not be disciplined,” the NBPA memo said. “To respect the decision of those who do return to play, it has been agreed that any player who chooses not to participate will have his compensation reduced by 1/92.6 for each game missed up to a cap of 14 games even his team plays more than 14 games in Orlando. There will be no other reductions of pay assessed (e.g., fines for missed practices) for a player’s decision not to return to play. Any player that wishes to exercise this right should notify his team of this election by June 24.”

Kyrie Irving said he doesn’t “support going into Orlando,” during a conference call earlier this month.

"I'm not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up,” he reportedly said.

No official word yet on if he's returning for the restart of the season. But we do know Lakers' guard Avery Bradley announced that he has opted out of the NBA's return to play on July 30. His teammate Dwight Howard also said it wouldn't be a good time to resume the game, but he likely will be in Orlando.

While Bradley's decision could cost him over $650,000 in remaining salary for choosing to sit out the remainder of the season, he says hes doing so due to the health of his 6-year-old son, Liam, and his family. 

"As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family," said Bradley in a statement to ESPN. "And so, at a time like this, I can't imagine making any decision that might put my family's health and well-being at even the slightest risk. As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities."

NBC Los Angeles reports:

Liam reportedly has a history of respiratory illness and could be considered among the many high-risk individuals for contracting a severe illness like COVID-19. Additionally, under the current NBA guidelines for the resumption of the season, Bradley would be away from his family for at least the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs before his family could even join him in the NBA bubble at Disney World. However, with Liam's history of respiratory illness, he would likely not be allowed to enter the bubble at all.


When the league returns, players will have the option to wear customized jerseys that feature personalized social justice, social cause or charity messages on the backs instead of their last names. Chris Paul - Oklahoma City Thunder guard/President of the National Basketball Players Association – said the players are excited about giving a voice to the voiceless.

“We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out,” Chris Paul told The Undefeated. “People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”

“The guys I talked to were definitely excited,” Paul said. “The reason I’m passionate and excited about it is that it gives a voice to the voiceless. It also gives guys a chance to shine a light on something they are passionate about. Otherwise, they may not have been given a chance to express themselves.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver feels confident that the league has created a safe environment to finish out the 2019-20 season:

“We believe we’ve developed a safe and responsible way to restart the season, We are left with no choice but to learn to live with this virus. No options are risk-free right now. We can’t sit on the sidelines indefinitely. We must adapt. We’re coming back because sports matter in a society. They bring people together when we need it the most,” he said during a conference call on Friday.

”We haven’t worked through every scenario … [but] if we were to have a significant spread of coronavirus throughout the community, that ultimately might lead us to stop it. We’re not saying full steam ahead no matter what happens … but we feel very comfortable right now with where we are. Of course, we designed our campus, in essence, to isolate ourselves from whatever the levels are in the surrounding community. “It’s on the rise in the majority of states right now and our ultimate conclusion was we can’t outrun the virus, which is why we designed the campus the way we did. It’s a closed network. While it’s not impermeable, we’re at least protected from what’s around us.” 

Basketball fans, are you ready? First tip off is July 30th, with a TNT doubleheader as the Utah Jazz faces the New Orleans Pelicans (6:30 p.m. ET) and the LA Clippers meet the Los Angeles Lakers (9 p.m. ET).


Photo: Getty

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