NBA commissioner Adam Silver did a one-on-one interview Wednesday with Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” and he addressed a number of topics regarding the league’s plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from possibly changing the playoff format to staging an exhibition for charity.
Here are five things you need to know about what Silver said:
The NBA is considering a charity game
One of the most interesting things Silver said was that there’s a possibility the NBA will hold a one-off game to raise money — or just morale.
Silver said the league has discussed pulling together a group of players, testing them for the coronavirus, keeping them isolated and then putting on a game.
“People are stuck at home, and I think they need a diversion, they need to be entertained,” Silver said. He also pointed out that the NBA was the first professional sports league in the United States to suspend play, serving as a catalyst for other leagues, and said the next step is to figure out how the league can be a leader in finding ways to restart the U.S. economy.
There are criteria for the 2019-20 season to resume
Asked about what it would take for the season to start again, Silver said the league was considering three options, one of them being the potential charity game.
“One is, ‘When can we restart and operate as we’ve known it, with 19,000 fans in buildings?'” Silver said. “So that’s one sort of criteria. And option two is, ‘Should we consider restarting without fans, and what would that mean?’ If you had a group of players and staff around them that could test them and follow some protocol, doctors and health officials may say it’s safe to play. So that’s the second set of circumstances.”
Silver added that he always tries to remain optimistic and that he hopes the league can continue this season, but he isn’t in the world of making predictions. “I’ve learned in this job and in this process that when people do pretend they can predict the future, they’re generally wrong,” he said. “Look no further than the fact that two weeks ago and a week ago people were saying very different things than they’re saying today.”
NBA could alter the playoffs
Silver said it’s possible the postseason format could change if the season resumes, and even suggested the league may consider play-in games.
“I want to believe we’ll be able to salvage at least some portion of this season,” Silver said. “We’ve done new and creative things in the past. We’ve talked about play-in formats for the playoffs.”
Silver has been open in the past about wanting to implement play-in games and an in-season tournament, so it’s not surprising that the league would toy with the idea now given the current bizarre circumstances.
NBA could start next season in December
If the league does resume play and the playoffs extend later than usual, then there’s a question of what to do about the 2020-21 season. Asked about this, Silver mentioned something that has been suggested by others, including Hawks CEO Steve Koonin: start the season on Christmas Day.
.@Rachel__Nichols asked if this could result in NBA calendar being permanently shifted, such as season starting on Christmas.
Adam Silver: “Possibly. Those are things we’re always talking about.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 18, 2020
It wouldn’t be the first time the NBA started its season started on Christmas. In 2011, the league shortened its season to 66 games following the end of a player lockout and opened on Dec. 25. Christmas has always been a big time of year for the NBA, so it’s easy to see why Silver might be inclined to make that the new permanent opening night.
Eight NBA teams have been tested for COVID-19
Players from three different teams (Jazz, Pistons, Nets) are confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Thunder announced Wednesday that all of their players and staff had tested negative for the virus, while other teams such as the Lakers and 76ers are reportedly awaiting test results.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATES: NBA players, other sports figures who have tested positive for COVID-19
Silver and the NBA had received criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said tests should be reserved for “the sick,” not “the rich.” Silver said the league has been following health officials’ guidance.
Adam Silver says he has not been tested for coronavirus. On some teams getting tested and criticism over it, he says NBA has been following recommendations from health officials. Says Jazz didn’t ask to be tested but that Oklahoma health official required them to be tested
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) March 18, 2020