With Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, what are the NBA’s rules and regulations for the restart?

Like almost everything else around us, the NBA season was shut down back in March, due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the good news is that they’re making a comeback, 85 days after they left the scene. Therefore, 22 teams are coming back on the court at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The return is expected on July 31st, but the question that sits on everyone’s lips is: What rules can we expect for this NBA season restart?

Before the NBA kicks-off again

This year’s NBA season is expected to make a comeback very soon. But first and foremost, before this happens and even before the teams can start heading towards Disney World, those players who left during the pandemic, need to come back from their hometowns (or countries) where they are currently with their families.

The issue that comes up in this situation, is what happens to the players who are returning to the US from overseas, as they’ll probably be subject to a two-week quarantine. The Lakers and the Bucks are still the betting favorites among supporters, but this year’s NBA season will be more unpredictable than ever.

After all the team players return safely, the next phase can be initiated: individual workouts in every team facility. This means that every player will be paired with a personal coach, while they’ll be training together, they will still be able to respect social distancing measures. This individual training phase is meant to last for a week, beginning June 30 and ending on July 7. But what happens after?

The NBA released an 113 page manual detailing some of the plans on how to re-open. July 7 is the date when all the teams are supposed to fly to Orlando, where they’ll have the Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort all to themselves. The reason why the arrival in Orlando happens 3 weeks before the actual games are supposed to start is that, in Florida, the law is a little different from other parts of the US. Their law states that passengers flying in from certain US states might be asked to stay in quarantine for 14 days. 

The NBA personnel and staff

All staff that comes along with the teams at Disney World will be obligated to wear an alarm that sets off when the user spends more than five seconds within two meters of another person. This device can also be worn by players, but they won’t be forced to do so. 

Each player is allowed to bring along a staff of up to 35 people. Even though it sounds like a huge number, most players prefer to bring their own trainers, coaches for strength and physical conditioning, security, equipment managers, etc. At a team level, they can also bring therapists and masseurs.

It’s also important to mention that the players will have access to therapists at all times with whom they can discuss their mental states and learn how to be mentally prepared for the unusual conditions that will make the return of this year’s NBA season possible.

What does the players view the NBA return?

How will the players work out the social distancing aspect? Once the team members are all gathered in Florida, they will have a strict set of rules that they need to follow. For example, they’ll all sleep in different bedrooms and will not be allowed to enter a different room other than their own. More so, on the campus, outside health care companies will be present, which will provide a medical clinic with X-ray and MRI facilities.

As for face masks, absolutely everyone on the campus will be required to wear one at all times, except when they’re in their rooms, during physical activities, and, of course, when they’re eating. All players will be subject to daily temperature checks, and they’ll also have to follow some unusual rules like not being allowed to spit or pick their noses, touch their mouth guards during training, or wipe the ball with their jerseys. 

They also put together a procedure for practice-court usage, which implies that each team will have three hours afforded to them. With appropriate scheduling between teams, there will be one hour specially reserved for cleaning and sanitizing everything.

We can also expect some players from the 22 teams not to be present for the restart of this year’s NBA season. The NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has clearly stated that if there’s one player who doesn’t feel safe with the current plan, mainly because of health reasons, then that player will not have to suffer any consequences, other than not being paid for the games that they’re missing.

The league is also managing how to open in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black NBA players represent more than 80% of the league, so they’re especially focused on how the Black community has suffered from generations of police brutality and systemic racism. Already, several players, including Kyrie Irving, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, Austin Rivers and others, have made their opinions known about what they plan on do, how it will help/hurt the cause, and what they hope the league will do.

While the NBA will not allow fans to attend the games this year, and possibly not even next year, the players are allowed to have guests coming over during their 4 months stay at the resort, but under very strict conditions. The guests can only come in after the first round of playoffs and they’ll be required to undergo 3 days of self-quarantine and testing.

The measures that are currently in place for the comeback of the NBA season are indeed very strict, but only by respecting them and taking all the necessary precautions, can we expect the games to happen. And even if fans are not allowed to be physically present for the action and support their favorite teams, at least they’ll be able to enjoy the experience from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

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