No Clear Path for NBA to Return Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Says Commissioner Adam Silver

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league has not decided when it may resume operations and that there was no clear path ahead.

Silver suggested the NBA was no closer to make a decision on when the season may resume or whether it will have to be canceled instead.

"Based on the reports that we got from varied outside officials, current public health officials ... we are not in a position to make any decisions," Silver said in a conference call with media on Friday, which followed a video conference meeting with the NBA's board of governors. "And it's unclear when we will be."

The NBA suspended the season on March 11, after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for the novel coronavirus. Since then, the COVID-19 outbreak has swept across the U.S., grinding the economy to a halt after most states issued shelter-in-place orders.

On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), suggested it was conceivable the final stage of a three-phase guidelines to restart the economy the Trump administration set out earlier this week would involve resuming sporting events.

"I think we'll be able to have sports events in that phase where you actually have participants there," he said. "I'm not sure you're going to be able to do that uniformly and evenly."

A day earlier, Fauci, a prominent member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, suggested professional sports could only resume behind closed doors at first.

Silver, however, hinted those discussions were still too far ahead for the NBA to make a decision.

"We are not even at the point where we can say if only A, B and C were met, then there is a clear path," he said. "I think there is still too much uncertainty at this point to say precisely how we move forward.

"I'll add that the underlying principle remains the health and well-being of NBA players and everyone involved. We begin with that as paramount."

The NBA commissioner reiterated all options remained on the table as far as resuming the season, including playing games behind closed doors and isolating players to postponing the start of next season to allow the current campaign to be completed.

At the same time, Silver acknowledged the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of any sort of detailed timeline over the NBA's return was a source of frustration for teams, players and fans.

"I know it's frustrating. It is for me and everyone involved that I am not in position to be able to answer the question," he said. "There is still enormous uncertainty around the virus as well. Now there is a lot that is changing quickly and we may be in a very different position some number of weeks from now.

"But it is why I initially announced at the beginning of April that I felt with confidence we would not be able to make any decisions in the month of April. I should clarify that I didn't mean to suggest that on May 1 I would be in a position."

Silver's comments came a day after President Donald Trump hinted the major leagues in the U.S. will resume behind closed doors, with fans barred from stadiums and arenas until the country has overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many [sports] will be starting without the fans, so it will be made for television, the good old days, made for television," the president said in his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday,

"And it will go that way, and maybe the fans will start coming in. Maybe they will be separated by two seats. and then ultimately we want to have packed arenas when the virus is gone. When the virus is gone, we want to have packed arenas and we are going to be back to enjoying sports the way they are supposed to be."

As of Saturday morning, nearly 707,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest toll in the world. Over 37,300 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and more than 59,600 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 154,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 2.2 million confirmed cases globally and almost 570,000 recoveries.

NBA, Adam Silver
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during a press conference at the United Center on February 15 in Chicago, Illinois. Stacy Revere/Getty
No Clear Path for NBA to Return Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Says Commissioner Adam Silver | Sports