The United States has looked to Dr. Anthony Fauci for guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. And now the trusted director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has weighed in on another matter of national importance -- the NBA.
When asked which team he thinks will win the championship, Fauci didn't hesitate in his response.
“Well, you know, I have to say the Lakers, for sure,” Fauci told FOX 11 in Los Angeles.
Fauci has worked under six presidents and earned bipartisan respect for his leadership during the pandemic. But long before Fauci was advising the nation, he was leading the Regis High basketball team as their starting point guard in 1958.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave his thoughts on Fauci in early April, tweeting, "Scouting report: great awareness, excellent communicator, smart decision maker. Didn’t take any s--- either."
Fauci told Stadium in June that he supported the NBA's plan to resume on July 30th at Walt Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, calling the plan "quite creative" and adding that other sports should look at that model. The plan includes 22 teams living in a bubble and playing eight regular season games before having a full four-round playoff bracket.
"What they are really trying to do — and I think they very well might be quite successful with it — is to create a situation where it is as safe as it possibly could be for the players by creating this bubble," Fauci told Stadium. "Essentially testing everybody, make sure that you start with a baseline of everybody being negative (for COVID-19). And trying to make sure there is no influx into that cohort of individuals and do a tournament-type play. It's not the classic basketball season, but certainly for the people who are thirsting for basketball, who love basketball the way I do, I think it's a sound plan."
Before the NBA was suspended on March 11 because of the pandemic, the Lakers were atop the Western Conference with a record of 49-14.
But while Fauci thinks the Lakers will win their first championship in a decade when the season resumes in Orlando, he doesn't think Angelenos will get to celebrate the title in their typical manner.
When asked if there could be a parade, Fauci was dubious.
"Well, I don't know about that," he said.