NBA Doesn't Want to Be 'Taking Tests Away From Citizens Who Need It,' Says Dallas Owner Mark Cuban

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes a lack of widespread testing has been the main obstacle preventing the NBA from resuming, but expects the league to return to action during the summer.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for COVID-19.

The availability of coronavirus test kits has been a major stumbling block, not just for the NBA but for every professional league looking to resume.

Health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have made clear that widespread testing is a non-negotiable requirement for professional sports hoping to get back in action.

The NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL must test all their players if they are to be cleared to return, but are also conscious of the potentially damaging look that conducting mass testing among players could have at a time when widespread tests for the general public remain unavailable in most of the 50 states.

Cuban is mindful that the issue has to be handled delicately.

"The only thing we're waiting for as I understand it—and this is just me talking second hand from what I'm hearing—we're waiting for there to be a more ubiquitous availability of tests for everybody," he told The Hardline on Sportsradio 96.7 FM.

"In some states it's really easy to get tested. In other states it's not.

"We don't want to be in the position where we're taking tests away from American citizens that need it. [...] Once we get over that hump, which I think is imminent, I think we'll really be in a good spot to put the pieces together."

Earlier this month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver indicated the league was considering using specific hubs to keep players isolated and limit travel as much as possible and singled out Las Vegas and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as two locations the league may use.

Over the weekend, the NBA confirmed it had opened talks with The Walt Disney Company about resuming its season in Orlando in late July.

"The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing," league spokesperson Mike Bass said.

Cuban said the NBA's choice to play games in a selected hub could prove crucial to its chances of resuming the season by late July.

"I'm a lot more confident [the season will return] particularly if we do the Hotel California approach where we go into a resort of some sort and quarantine," he continued.

"You can check in but you can never leave until you're [cleared]. I think we can handle that. I think we've got a handle on the science."

Cuban added that while the situation the NBA finds itself in was far more promising than the scenario it faced two months ago, the league was not out of the woods yet and extreme caution remained necessary.

"My biggest fear is just the safety of all the guys and the personnel that will be there to support putting everything on," he explained.

"That's first and foremost. [...] We will not do anything unless we feel like we can protect all the [players] and essential personnel."

Over half of the NBA franchises have returned to training and ESPN reported that on June 1, the league will issue official guidelines on allowing franchises to recall players who have left their states and on expanding individual workouts.

As of Tuesday morning, over 1.66 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world.

Over 98,200 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 379,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

More than 346,300 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan city, in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been almost 5.5 million confirmed cases globally.

Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, during the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 28 in Miami, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty