Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban on NBA's Return: 'I Don't See Us Playing with Fans'

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2020

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban watches players warm up before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Even if the NBA does return this season, Dallas Mavericks owner doesn't expect games to be played in full arenas. 

Cuban said as much during an interview with TMZ Sports:

"We're just going to have to defer to the scientists, the doctors who will tell us what we need to do to get the arenas in shape to be able to accept people and for those people to have confidence," he said.

"I don't see us playing with fans," he added.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday on Good Luck America sports can come back if "nobody comes to the stadiums," via Chris Bumbaca of USA Today.

Cuban added he wanted fans to feel confident attending large gatherings, which could include detailed information on when items at the arena were last cleaned.

However, he noted it's unlikely we see players in masks during games. 

"If a player thinks that they need a mask in order to play, we're probably trying to play too early," he said.

The NBA season was first suspended on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, but Cuban was optimistic early on the league could return without fans.

"Hopefully by the middle of May, we're starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games," he said last month, per Mike Leslie of WFAA. "Maybe not with fans, but we're playing it because sports plays such an important role."

Commissioner Adam Silver also said in March the league had planned to return without crowds.

"As I look at the options, maybe we can do this incrementally, and the first step isn't games with thousands of people in the arenas, but maybe it is just games," Silver told ESPN's Rachel Nichols (via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). "Something I've always said is 99% of people consume our game through some sort of media platform. It's only a tiny percentage of fans who get to see our games in arenas."

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