NBA Commissioner Adam Silver remains optimistic about salvaging season; defends player testing

Even if he admittedly did not have all the answers, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stayed firm on one thing. Though the coronavirus outbreak eventually prompted him to suspend the NBA season before overseeing seven players testing positive for the virus, Silver is not ready to announce a cancellation.

“I’m optimistic by nature,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Wednesday. “I want to believe we can salvage some form of the season.”

Silver has had daily conversations with medical experts and Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBA players union. Silver has also hosted various conference calls with the league’s 30 owners. During those discussions, Silver said all parties have proposed either restarting the season with fans, playing games behind closed doors or even hosting a one-off charity event. Silver added “it’s possible” the outbreak could prompt the NBA to reconsider its schedule in future seasons.

Still, Silver admitted uncertainty because of fluid developments. Seven NBA players have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week, including Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Detroit’s Christian Wood and Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and three other unnamed teammates. Silver said that eight teams have conducted tests, which have included Utah, Oklahoma City, Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Lakers. Silver said he “was honestly not all surprised” with those developments because the virus has passed through forms of contact.

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“I certainly learned in this job and in this process when people pretend they can predict the future,” Silver said, “they’re usually wrong.”

Silver believes the NBA has been right, however, in having its players receive tests for the coronavirus. That development sparked public criticism from New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and those without the means to receive tests.

“There are insufficient tests,” Silver said. “I understand from a public health standpoint why some people reacted the way they did. But from an NBA standpoint, we were following (medical) directives.”

After Gobert tested positive just before last week’s game between the Jazz and Thunder, a local healthcare provider delivered tests to both teams at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The Raptors, Celtics and Pistons then took tests since they had also recently played Utah. The Nets paid for tests with a private company after learning that some of their players had symptoms. Once Brooklyn announced its news, the Lakers made tests available for their players on Wednesday morning. The Golden State Warriors are among a handful of NBA teams that have yet to test any players because of the lack of supply and because no one has reported feeling any symptoms.

“I understand there are many sides of this issue. But by virtue of an NBA player being tested and the attention it brought?” Silver said. “My sense was, especially young people in the United States, people were not taking these protocols seriously until the NBA did what it did.”

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