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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Markelle Fultz walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City.

NBA Commissioner Silver Talks Spike In COVID-19 Cases & Anthem Protests

Following the positive COVID-19 test of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the first in the entire NBA, league commissioner Adam Silver was swift to suspend the league’s season. Now with the NBA to resume in Walt Disney World on July 30, Silver spoke out on Tuesday to address the league’s restart.

One of the biggest questions for the NBA’s restart is what will happen if there is an outbreak of the virus inside the NBA’s bubble. The league is restarting in Walt Disney World in Florida, where there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Silver said that he is confident in the bubble keeping the virus out, at least in the sense of there not being such a large spike like the rest of the state, but he emphasized if there is a massive increase in cases either in the bubble or across the country, it could force the league to shut the season down. “I’m pretty confident, largely because we are playing on a campus that is confined in that the only way to gain access to that campus is to be part of our protocol where there is regular testing,” Silver told Time. “And if someone were to leave our campus, they would need to test and quarantine in order to return to play. So at least in terms of the model, we are protected from the rate of cases in the broader community.… But if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well.” 

One of the other talking points of the season’s resumption has been ongoing social justice movements that have taken place across the U.S. in the past month. Many NBA players have participated in various protests and have implored the league to use its platform to take a stance. Silver has been open to this idea and has considered painting “Black Lives Matter” on the courts in Orlando and allowing players to have personalized social justice messages on the back of their jerseys instead of their names. “I am not comfortable with the word ‘allow,’” he said. “I think we have had a rule on our books that goes back to the early ‘80s that precedes even David Stern’s tenure as commissioner that calls for players to stand in a line and attention during the national anthem. I also understand the role of protest, and I think that we’ll deal with that situation when it presents itself.”

The NBA is set to restart as noted on July 30, which will see the New Orleans Pelicans take on the Jazz, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers going up against the Los Angeles Clippers.

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Written by Tyler Melito

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