The NBA appears to be on its way toward a smooth restart in its bubble environment as the league and the National Basketball Players Association announced Monday that there have been no positive COVID-19 test results since July 13.
League officials tested 346 players over that period, all of whom reside in the Orlando NBA bubble.
Howard Questions Need for Masks
While several NBA players have reported testing positive for the coronavirus, most of those cases came before traveling to Orlando. The league announced just two positive tests out of 322 players in its first batch of testing back on July 13.
Those numbers should improve confidence that the league will be able to begin play as scheduled on July 30. Teams will start playing exhibition scrimmages on Wednesday.
The perceived success of the NBA bubble has led some players to question whether mask requirements are necessary in the sequestered environment.
“We’re getting tested every day,” Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard said in an Instagram Live video posted Sunday. “So, it’s not like we’re around anybody that can give it to us because we all get tested together. And so, we’re only around each other. We’re only around everybody that’s in the bubble. We don’t see any outsiders.”
Howard earned himself a warning last week when he failed to wear a face-covering in common areas of the NBA facility.
While players who miss their families and freedom of movement may not see the bubble as ideal, Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams said he’s trying to keep things in perspective.
Steven Adams on living in the bubble: "Let's be clear: This is not Syria. It's not that hard … We're living at a bloody resort. Everyone is going to complain, everyone has their own preferences, nothing too serious. Just a bit of dry food here and there."
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 20, 2020
“Let’s be clear: This is not Syria. It’s not that hard,” Adams told reporters. “We’re living at a bloody resort. Everyone is going to complain, everyone has their own preferences, nothing too serious. Just a bit of dry food here and there.”
NBA Bubble Court Unveiled
While players are unlikely to suffer the harshest effects if they contract COVID-19, other NBA personnel could be at higher risk. The league has shown particular concern over some of its older coaches. Gregg Popovich, the 71-year-old head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, told “NBA on TNT” that he definitely has concerns about the virus.
“I don’t want to die,” Popovich said. “It behooves each of us who might be a little older to take it very seriously. I wear my mask to practice. I only take it off when I’ve got something to say, because I am concerned.”
Popovich has also vocally supported social justice causes, including Black Lives Matter. On Tuesday, the league previewed the Black Lives Matter messaging that will appear on the courts during games in the NBA bubble.
The NBA bubble court 🔥🔥
“Black Lives Matter” above the logo pic.twitter.com/91CfMCz1ct
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 21, 2020
FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Milwaukee Bucks as the +240 favorite to win the NBA Championship, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (+260) and Clippers (+320).