NBA starting season without bubble


Source: Unsplash

Ryan Geary, Staff Writer

With the last NBA season ending in October, the Dec. 22 start date shortens the off-season for teams to make adjustments for COVID-19 prevention. Last season, 22 of the best teams in the league completed their seasons in a metaphorical “bubble” in Orlando which provided some safety from COVID-19 by isolating all of the teams in one place.

“Without a bubble this year, I don’t know how the league can justify better prevention of the virus,” senior Jaxon Jadryev said. 

This season, the NBA has created a 134-page outline of COVID-19 policies they will follow that were implemented in the bubble. According to the NBA’s COVID Policies Guide from ESPN, the criteria that determines eligibility after testing positive is separated into a time-based resolution and a test-based resolution. These entail being quarantined for 10 days after a positive result, or providing two negative tests that must be at least 24 hours apart. 

“With same day testing being available towards the end of last season, the NBA should be able to better regulate the spread of the virus,” senior Matthew Harper said. 

Being able to test players once or multiple times a day will be helpful in having timely results and making sure the league stays healthy. As stated in The Ringer, the organization has been able to test players six out of seven days of the week. 

The football league has a 53-man roster on each team. The same day testing has enabled the NFL to continue without a shut down, and monitoring the virus in a 15 man NBA roster–which is shortened to 13 on game days—is logistically easier. However, there is still some hesitation because of living conditions.

“I think there has to be some concern from the players that they don’t have the protection of the bubble this year,” Jadryev said. 

There is a lot of uncertainty among the players as to how the season will go. In a CNN interview, Karl Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves mentioned he lost seven family members from COVID-19 complications. With deaths among their families, the players will likely question how well the NBA is adapting to an even less secure system without a bubble. However, there could be a solution for isolating players who test positive, but it will come at a cost.

“I don’t think teams will be able to appropriately contain players with positive test results,” Harper said. 

According to the NBA’s COVID Policies Guide from ESPN, there will be housing for the players that test positive. 

The league has made exceptions so that the teams can interfere with their set salary cap to include isolation housing for players. However, there is no indication that players who have not tested positive are restrained to a specific area. This will warrant more frequent testing because there is no way to know where the players go in their free time and how well they respect COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I agree that with this long season, the league will have a challenge ahead of them managing the players who test positive, but their new system could work” Jadryev said.