NBA & COVID-19: 'Death Has Never Been On The Table' - Mavs GM Donnie Nelson

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - The NBA is now experiencing some players-based second thoughts about the COVID-19-era plan to re-boot the season at the end of July. And Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson's words offer a logical explanation.

“Death,'' Nelson says, "has never been on the table before.'' 

Donnie's remarks (via Mavs.com) pre-date the recent players conference call in which Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard expressed reluctance (to say the least) in hurrying back to the floor after a three-month layoff. Some players believe the re-start will take away from the civil-rights movement that is taking place in America. Others clearly think it's a health risk.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers seems to be a driving force in a players' collective decision to return, with action fully based in a "bubble'' in Orlando. Patrick Beverly of the Los Angeles Clippers is expressing that reality in a tweet, saying, "Hoopers say what y'all want, if LeBron said we hooping, we all hooping. Not personal, only business."

It's certainly worth noting that the power of James, and of other NBA players leaders like Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, could win the day here. But the COVID-19 crisis has been taken seriously by the NBA from the very start, with the 2019-20 season stopped on March 11, with a final game in Dallas, a Mavericks win over Denver that puts the Mavs at 40-27, in seventh place in the Western Conference, and Luka Doncic and friends itching for a playoff appearance.

But, says Nelson, “We’re trying to get it right, as a country, as an organization and individually. Listen, it’s just baby steps. Every step, you’re measuring the risk to your players, your family. We’re all measuring risk.''

It can be argued that while anybody involved in the NBA pushing its return is in part fueled by finance (there is a lot of money to be lost or gained here), the owners would be wise to prioritize the safety of their most valued partners/employees - the players. Nevertheless, Nelson says, COVID-19 has created a unique challenge in that department.

"In sports,'' he says, "there’s always a heart attack or lightning that can strike. But (generally), as an organization, for our fans and our family, death has never been on the table.''

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