The National Basketball Players’ Association have said the NBA’s bubble plan was met with “consternation” putting it in doubt as a viable option to conclude the 2019-20 season.
The NBA has been suspended since March 9 due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has hit the United States hard with more than 1.36m confirmed cases and 80,562 deaths.
Plans have been floated to resume the 2019-20 season, along with potentially delaying the start of the 2020-21 season, with any matches expected to be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
There’s also been discussion around a bubble plan whereby all matches would be played at a centralised location, potentially Las Vegas or even Disney World, with all teams based in hotels around that venue for an extended period of time away from their families.
National Basketball Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN: “When that was first floated, there was some consternation.
“Are we going to arm guards around the hotel? That sounds like incarceration to me.”
It is understood 40 per cent of the NBA’s revenue is generated by game nights, such as through match tickets, hospitality and sponsorship servicing.
The inability to generate revenue from game nights leaves the NBA with a major issue, which commissioner Adam Silver labeled as “the single greatest challenge of all our lives”.
There also remains numerous major issues for the NBA to work through, including player safety concerns and testing along with welfare given the challenges of isolation within hotels away from families.
ESPN acquired audio from a player call between Roberts and Silver, where the NBA commissioner insisted that the centralised idea eliminated the risk associated with flying players around the country for matches with no fans.
Silver also said the NBA wouldn’t be taken tests away from needy people, yet it’s understood the league needs 15,000 test kits to meet the required protocol to assure authorities it is safe to continue training and playing.
No decision on the NBA’s immediate future needs to be made in May. It is understood there’s a cautious mid-June deadline for a final call on the 2019-20 season.