Nine Players Testing Positive For COVID-19 On FC Dallas In Orlando Bubble Undoubtedly Concerning For NBA

Jill Painter Lopez

The Lakers are scheduled to travel to Orlando in one week for the resumption of the NBA season, but news out of the MLS’ bubble in Orlando has surely made that trip even more concerning.

The tournament "MLS Is Back" is scheduled to begin with games on July 8 at a bubble site in Orlando and already nine FC Dallas players have tested positive for the coronavirus, along with one coach, according to The Athletic. 

Early in the day on Wednesday, FC Dallas released a statement that six players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The statement said every member of the traveling party tested negative for the coronavirus before the team’s departure but, that upon arrival, two players tested positive and were quarantined. The team arrived at their bubble site, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort, on June 27. 

Hours later on Wednesday, The Athletic reported that four more people in the FC Dallas contingent had contracted the virus, three players and one coach. 

The news must be disconcerting for NBA players who are about to join the bubble at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando next week. The Lakers are set to resume the season against the Clippers in their first game back from the hiatus on July 30. 

Cases are spiking across the country and concern is justifiable for each NBA team’s 35-person traveling party. Rob Pelinka, the Lakers general manager and vice president of basketball operations, addressed that in a conference call on Tuesday.   

"The fundamental tenant of the plans around the NBA restart on campus in Orlando are 'Can we create an environment there that is safer than an environment just in the real world?'" Pelinka said. "I think all of us see the reports and the numbers and the spikes in the various cities we live in and parts of Florida. Yes, of course, those numbers are daunting. But the whole purpose of creating this environment is to not have the virus be there and keep the virus on the outside.

"The protocols are extensive and are thoughtful. That’s been hundreds and hundreds of hours of work by the NBA players union and by the NBA. I think our goal as a collective entity is to try to pull that off where it’s safer inside than on the outside. There are a lot of unknowns around that. It’ll be fluid. All of us just have to stay committed to being as safe as possible and taking it one day at a time."

Even with all the of the protocols and safety guidelines, NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that there are still risks.

“[It’s] never ‘full steam no matter what,'” Silver said Tuesday in a TIME 100 Talks discussion. “One thing we’re learning about this virus is that much is unpredictable.”

Asked what would happen if there was a significant spread in the NBA's bubble, Silver told TIME he's not sure 

"We have a panel of scientists, doctors, experts that are working with us," Silver said. "We’re going to see as we go ... Certainly, if we have a lot of cases, we’re going to stop. You cannot run from this virus. I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus, because there aren’t many other situations I’m aware of where there’s mass testing of asymptomatic employees. So in some ways this is maybe a model for how other industries ultimately open.”

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