By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer/ BNC Contributor
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have finalized terms of the deal that will allow the league to restart the season at the Disney World campus near Orlando, Florida next month.
The league and the union made the announcement Friday.
Many of the details were already known, such as how “stringent health and safety protocols” would be in place for the 22 teams that will be participating, that no fans will be present and that games will be held in three different arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
With all necessary details completed and agreed upon, the league said it would release the schedule for the 88 “seeding games” — eight games for each of the 22 clubs, starting on July 30 — later Friday, as well as the national broadcast schedule for that portion of the season.
“We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”
Those protocols will be critical, given the current state of coronavirus testing in Florida.
Numbers in the Sunshine State have soared in recent weeks, and Orange County — the Orlando area — has seen at least 10% of all tests come back positive for 10 consecutive days. That’s more than double what the rate in that part of the state was from June 6-15, and more than 10 times higher than the 0.9% clip of positive tests there from May 9-22.
Earlier Friday, the league and the union announced that 16 of 302 players tested on Tuesday, the first day of mandatory testing leading up to the restart, came back positive for coronavirus. Players who tested positive must remain in self-isolation until they satisfy public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and have been cleared by a physician.
“It has taken true collaboration between the league and the union — special kudos to our Executive Committee and several other team reps — along with the continued support and assistance from medical experts, public health officials and many others,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said. “Additionally, our platform in Orlando presents a unique opportunity to extend the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality in this country.”
The league and the union announced earlier this week that addressing racial issues and inequality in the country will be a priority during the restarted season.
The NBA suspended its season March 11 because of the virus.