Yesterday we reported on the NBA’s plan to re-open team facilities in certain areas that had sufficiently relaxed their Coronavirus lockdowns. That plan didn’t last long. ESPN is reporting today that the league has delayed their plan to allow players to utilize team facilities until May 8.
The primary reason for the change according to ESPN is that the Atlanta Hawks got wobbly about the idea. Georgia has relaxed their Coronavirus house arrest and Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk is wringing his hands:
“We are going to wait and see what happens in the state over the couple weeks. If there’s a positive response, we’ll slowly open up. If it’s a negative response, we’ll make sure our staff and players remain healthy.”
For some bizarre reason, no one wants to be the first to re-open team facilities. On a macro level, it doesn’t look as if any North American sport wants to take the lead in the resumption of play. The NBA is supposedly ‘waiting for more clarity’ before they make a decision.
The NBA memo quoted by ESPN is borderline comical in its social distancing mandates:
ESPN obtained a 16-page league memo on Monday that detailed to teams the requirements of reopening facilities, including allowing only four players in a facility at one time and having only one staff member supervising. No coaches are to be allowed in the workouts with players, the memo said. A distance of 12 feet must be kept among individuals on the court.
One team president told ESPN:
“There has been a concern that players could start flocking to states that are reopening.”
Which was the NBA’s point in re-opening facilities in the first place. The rationale was that players would flock to these states anyway and end up practicing in facilities that aren’t up to the league’s high standards of cleanliness and sanitation. Players would be much safer in team facilities than at the local 24 Hour Fitness location. Of course they can’t do that either–more strangeness from the NBA as they’ve prohibited players from using public gymnasiums or training facilities during the league shutdown.