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Adam Silver: NBA mulling 'diversion' game for 'stir crazy' players, fans

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not resume play until public health officials say it is safe to return to the court amid the coronavirus outbreak. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not resume play until public health officials say it is safe to return to the court amid the coronavirus outbreak. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

March 19 (UPI) -- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says his league is thinking about staging a charity game as a "diversion" from the coronavirus outbreak for "stir crazy" players and fans.

Silver floated the idea Wednesday during an interview with ESPN.

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The NBA last week suspended the rest of the season indefinitely. At least seven NBA players have so far tested positive for COVID-19, including All-Stars Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell. Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert was the first player to test positive for the virus.

Silver said he isn't sure what the NBA schedule will look like if play resumes this season, but added that he isn't ready to think about canceling the rest of the games.

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The NBA is considering multiple options, he said, and mulling when it can restart and operate normally with 19,000 fans in arenas. The league is also thinking about restarting games without fans in attendance. Silver said that option might include players and staff being tested for the coronavirus and following a protocol before doctors and health officials determine whether it's safe to play.

"Are there conditions in which a group of players could compete -- maybe it's for a giant fundraiser or just the collective good of the people -- where you take a subset of players and, is there a protocol where they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another?" Silver asked.

"Because people are stuck at home, and I think they need a diversion. They need to be entertained."

The NBA employs about 55,000 people, and many teams and players have made hefty donations during the break to reimburse arena workers for lost wages.

"How can we restart the economy? What role can the NBA play?" Silver added.

The commissioner said the first step to a return isn't games with thousands of people in arenas. He also spoke of using new technologies to virtually bring the game back to fans and make noise in arenas, even without them in attendance.

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"I have heard from a lot of our players," Silver said. "They're going stir-crazy, they want to play. They want to compete. Players as you know, unlike a lot of us in our positions we can just go back to what we were doing, but every player is fighting something that's unwinnable, and that's the aging process.

"A lost year or lost portion of a season in their careers is very different from other people, so we're gonna try by every means we can to play basketball again, but I say that the safety and health of our players is first, and our fans, which is why I don't want to speculate more on that."

So far, eight full NBA teams and several other players who have shown coronavirus symptoms have been tested.

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