The Happiest Place on Earth may soon take on new meaning.
Disney CEO Bob Iger recently joined the NBA's remote Board of Governors meeting in which he presented how his company is handling the coronavirus pandemic. With the theme parks still shut down, the concept of housing all NBA teams on location and using multiple venues on the 25,000-acre property has gained momentum, though it is just one of an undisclosed number of ideas the league is mulling over, including using several separate sites.
Both Iger and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver have repeatedly stated their timelines to resume activities will prioritize "data over dates."
The notion of housing all teams in one location—whether at Disney World or elsewhere—does not appear to be a sticking point for the league's brass, per Wojnarowski:
"Regardless of the location, conversation around the league has circled around the G League Showcase as a single-site template.
"For the past two years, the Showcase has been held at MGM's Mandalay Bay and has accommodated 28 teams. Under that setup, five courts are placed in a convention center -- two for games and three for practices -- with all of the teams staying at connected hotels under the same roof.
"But experts recommend clustering teams into smaller groups as an extra safeguard against the spread of infection. Teams might need to stay and play in separate locations."
All parties involved have agreed that nothing can move forward without an adequate COVID-19 testing program. According to Wojnarowski, that would require procuring nearly 15,000 tests. Given that teams received a memo on Thursday to avoid arranging tests for asymptomatic players and staff, it's unclear how the league would go about instituting this plan, or how often league associates and employees would be tested.
It may also present a public relations issue for the NBA if it is buying thousands of tests while many states around the country are still struggling to source their own.
"I do think it would be disturbing to many if there was massive testing that was available to a sports league at a time when people who are in high-risk situations were still having a difficult time getting access to testing," Former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Brian Windhorst.
Murthy has repeatedly spoken with and advised Silver and the league governors on their response to the pandemic.
Even without a clear timeline, the NBA is preparing to return in some capacity with players anxious to get back on the court. That was never more clear than on Thursday afternoon when Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made a rare statement about the league's handling of the coronavirus in which he declared "nobody should be canceling anything."
Yet the league's biggest star added he would only want a return to action once it's safe to do so.