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NBA sticks to game plan after nine more COVID-19 positive tests

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
NBA teams are scheduled to compete at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., when the season resumes later this month.
(espnwwos.com)

The NBA knew players were going to test positive for the coronavirus — it’s why the league’s return to play mandated a period of every-other-day testing before teams travel to Orlando, Fla., to try to resuscitate the 2019-20 season.

The league and its players’ union, the NBPA, jointly announced Thursday that nine more players tested positive for COVID-19. The results came from tests conducted June 24-29.

Since the league began mandatory testing, 25 of 351 players have tested positive for the coronavirus — 7.12%. Only 10 of the 884 team staff members that have been tested have been positive (1.13%). Those numbers don’t include players and staff who tested positive before rejoining their teams.

“Any player, coach or team staff member who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until they satisfy public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and have been cleared by a physician,” the NBA and NBPA release said.

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Despite those cases, and despite the virus thriving around the country, including in Florida’s Orange County where the season will resume, Lakers coach Frank Vogel thinks things are on track.

“I do have a great deal of confidence in this bubble set-up and the process,” Vogel said Thursday. “Those tests, to me, was something that I really expected. You’re seeing it in all sports. As they begin testing, there are going to be a handful of positive cases.”

The NBA issued nearly 150 pages of documents detailing its plans to restart the season in Orlando, Fla. Here are 25 of the most interesting takeaways.

Epidemiologists have generally been supportive of the NBA’s plan, which largely protects players from interacting with people outside of the “bubble” — though Disney workers, who will have little to no direct contact with players, will live in their homes instead of on campus.

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Once inside, players will be asked to follow strict guidelines, including mandatory mask wearing and social distancing. Players will be limited in where they can go and who they can interact with as well.

Portland All-Star guard Damian Lillard was asked how confident he’d be that his NBA brethren would be able to follow the rules in Orlando.

“My confidence ain’t great. My confidence ain’t great,” he repeated. “You’re telling me you’re going to have 22 teams full of players follow all the rules? Like when we have 100% freedom, everybody don’t follow all the rules. I don’t have much confidence.”

As the NBA gears up to resume play, the Lakers and Clippers believe they can recapture the form that made them title contenders. Others are not so sure.

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For teams like the Lakers with title aspirations, adherence to the rules makes more sense — they have a championship opportunity at stake. Contending teams canonly hope that the teams there for the short-term don’t act irresponsibly.

“I think for the safety of the league, the safety of the players and all the people there, I think everyone would be mindful of following the rules,” Lakers star Anthony Davis said. “... No one wants to get COVID. I don’t think guys will — well, hopefully wouldn’t — put themselves and other players and staff that’s in the bubble in jeopardy. I don’t think guys will do anything like that.”


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