Could the NBA Survive Outside A Bubble?

Erik Gee

Major League baseball is postponing two games scheduled for Monday due to a recent outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the Miami Marlins. According to reports, at least 14 people within the organization, including 11 players, have tested positive for coronavirus. 

Even though MLB is playing in empty stadiums, teams are still flying all over the country.  The Marlins were in Philadelphia this weekend, and there is a concern not only about Phillies players contracting the virus, but if baseball's plan to play outside a bubble can work. 

The NBA is showing you can have success when you lock your personnel into one location. Last week, the league tested 346 players and came back with zero positives. 

Outside of Kristaps Porzingis missing a test, Lou Willams visiting an Atlanta Strip club and two players accidentally breaking protocol things in Orlando are going as smoothly as one can expect. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti says the NBA won't play in one location next season. 

Does that mean two bubbles or trying something similar to MLB with empty arenas and teams traveling to different locations? ESPN's Rachel Nichols asked President of the Players Association Chris Paul about starting next year outside an enclosed environment. 

"It might be above my paygrade; I don't know we haven't had them discussions yet."..."They'll probably come soon, but right now, we're trying to take care of what we got here first, and then we'll move on from there."

 Any decision made for the NBA's future will depend on when a vaccine for COVID-19 is ready for public consumption. Presti knows the league must be flexible.

 "You can't plan yourself into a pretzel."... "You have to wait for things to evolve and see where things are at season's end and make our future decisions from there."..."We don't understand or have a better handle on where the virus will be; we don't know how the bubble experiment will go."... "We just know it's going well to this point."

Paul says neither the NBA nor the union has had any discussions about playing outside the U.S.  But, it's hard to think that any scenario will be off the table when the two sides have their virtual meetings after this season. 

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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.

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