NBA Season 2020 Player Safety Protocols

The NBA 2020 season is finally back on track after months of delay and several obstacles. The United States seemed to have begun to understand the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic when the NBA decided to cancel its season back in March due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. 

The league used the time off to figure out a way for players to come back and play safely, avoiding additional positive cases of the deadly virus. Essentially, the NBA created a safety bubble where players would stay and compete, cutting themselves off from the outside world. 

Known as the Orlando bubble, this area is located in Walt Disney World, of all places. The 2019-2020 season started over on July 30th and continues to play games each week. The NBA safety bubble is a safe zone of sorts, that allows the teams located inside to compete and stay Covid-19 free. 

The following teams are in Orlando within the bubble

So, what teams are in the NBA Bubble? So far, there are 22 teams inside the environment. Each team will play eight seeding games over a two week time frame.

These games will determine the playoff standings. From that point, the postseason should take place in a traditional form with seven game series in each round until the winner is named. Of course, this is based on maintaining the bubble. 

  • Boston Celtics
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Miami Heat
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Utah Jazz
  • Washington Wizards

What teams are not in the NBA bubble? 

Only eight teams were not invited to the safe zone. This includes: 

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Minnesota Timberwolves 
  • New York Knicks

Moving to Orlando 

To enact the NBA bubble plan, players had to move to Orlando. The ESPN Wide World of Sports complex is being used to play out the remainder of the NBA season. Teams are staying at the Gran Destino, Grand Floridian and the Yacht Club while on Disney property. 

To ensure the bubble remains safe and as COVID-19 free as possible, the NBA created an extensive list of rules, regulations and requirements for players as well as staff members, etc. The documents provided by the NBA to each team is lengthy and lists several requirements and odd restrictions that players must follow. 

For starters, testing is essential. Every player and staff member must take an antibody test and a PCR. The PCR test is repeated every other day. If a player tests positive, the individual must self-isolate and not train for two weeks. 

Cleaning The Basketball

After each individual workout by team members, the staff of the NBA team must clean the basketball using dish detergent with water. The ball must also be wiped with a clean town and allowed to dry. Once the ball dries, it needs to be sprayed with a disinfectant. 

The NBA is also being super strict regarding players leaving the campus. NBA security will monitor who leaves the campus and enters. Anyone who re-enters the campus will have to complete a nasal swab test and then quarantine in their hotel room for several days. 

The individual will face a pay deduction for the days in quarantine unless they are approved to leave for reasons such as the birth of a child, medical, family member death, etc. 

Staying at Disney

Staying on Disney property also has its advantages. Players have been given magic bands, which are helpful in entering the hotel room as well as for dining and shopping. Visitors to Disney World are well-aware of the convenience of magic bands while on Disney property.

Magic bands are worn on the wrist and use special technology to activate hotel locks. They are also connected to credit cards so that dining is made simple, no cash or other form of payment needed. The player just simply holds the magic band up to a Mickey head and activates payment. 

Disney is also providing a culinary crew for each team. This ensures each team has a menu that supports the dietary needs of players. Disney restaurants are open to players, where the magic band can be used, as well as room service.

Team members can use off-campus food delivery but the food must be prepared by a personal chef of the player and follow guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration. 

NBA Safety Gadgets 

An interesting addition to the NBA safety plan is gadgets. There are several tech gadgets that players can use to help with Covid-19 safety protocols. We all know that social distancing is important, however, the NBA is taking it to a whole new level. Players can choose to wear a proximity alarm device.

This device will go off when the individual is within six feet of someone else for more than five seconds. This helps the wearer to know when they are too close to someone else. 

Another option is the Oura smart ring. This can be worn by players as well and can help detect the coronavirus early on. It will track temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and other health measures. With temperature detection and the other rates, players can determine if they might have the virus sooner rather than later. 

These gadgets are not required but available for use. It is unclear as to how many players, if any, are utilizing these tools provided by the NBA. 

Don’t Be Gross

The NBA is also asking players to avoid gross habits while they are on the basketball court. This may seem odd, but there are several habits that are common among players that could lead to infection if a player does have the virus.

Players are not allowed to clear their nose or spit on the court. Players must also avoid using their jersey to wipe the basketball. 

Players should not lick their hands and touch other items like their shoes or the basketball. Players are also to avoid playing with their mouthguards or touching it unnecessarily. The NBA wants players to follow these protocols to avoid any unnecessary body fluids on the court or basketball while players are together. 

Some Criticism

With the NBA season starting back up, the league is receiving some criticism based on the format as well as health and safety regulations.

The new schedule is condensed so that the NBA can try to keep the league as close to its usual timeline as possible. However, this could cause problems for players. The last game of the year is set for October 12, Game 7 of the NBA Finals, if it gets to that point. The start date for the next season is December 1.

This gives barely any time for players to rest and recover from the current season. Some analysts suggest that this is a detriment to players.  

Critics also point out a flaw in the health protocols of the NBA. When a player tests positive, play doesn’t stop. The player is quarantined for seven days.

Replacement Players

The league is considering allowing teams to provide replacement players so they can continue with games based on how many players end up with the virus. The incubation period for Covid-19 is 2 to 14 days. The seven-day quarantine is considered to be an unsafe time frame, according to some.

It is also unclear if players will feel comfortable or be able to perform on the court if someone does test positive. Will knowing that someone has the virus keep players from being at the top of their game? For some, the risk outweighs the reward when it comes to the NBA getting back to gameplay. 

So far, the NBA has been able to play games without an incident of Covid-19. The bubble concept seems to be working. However, the season will continue throughout the month, with many games set to take place. Only time will tell what will happen regarding the league and potential infection from the Covid-19 virus. 

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