Report: NBA Officials Worry About Psychological Effects of Reopening League

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: An NBA logo is shown at the 5th Avenue NBA store on March 12, 2020 in New York City. The National Basketball Association said they would suspend all games after player Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz reportedly tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Several NBA team officials are concerned about the "psychological effects of returning to organized activities" on players and staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Per that report, "Several general managers and athletic trainers pointed to a number of players—though they say it's not a large percentage—who they would describe as 'germophobes.' These team officials say there are several executives and other league staffers in the same position."

"I'm not a germophobe, and I'm afraid," an Eastern Conference general manager told Holmes.

A Western Conference training official said he was concerned with working with players who might not take the threat of the coronavirus seriously:

"I just know myself. I wouldn't want to work with the [players]. I mean, these are young guys. Some of them, I don't think they think it's real. They're just like, 'Oh, we're thinking too much into it,' but I'm like, 'It's the whole world.'

"And so the tough part is, it's my job to work with the guys. So you don't want to go against the grain, but at the same time, I'm not trying to put my family at risk."

It remains unclear when the NBA will resume play, if at all, and where the United States might be in its battle against the pandemic in the coming months. At present, the country has 1,252,911 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 75,447 deaths, per CNN.com

While some areas are starting to ease off of stay-at-home orders or social distancing guidelines, there remains the fear of a potential second outbreak or a more intense outbreak in regions previously affected to a lesser degree. 

The NBA, then, faces a number of tricky decisions about its own potential return to action. Fans in attendance are almost assuredly out of the question for the foreseeable future, and until the league feels comfortable testing players, a return to play won't happen.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Without widespread coronavirus testing available to country, NBA remains sensitive on using tests w/ players showing no symptoms entering facilities to start workouts. If/when NBA opens camps for a formal return to play, there's an understanding testing protocols would change. https://t.co/3Wbo3K1dgj

One possibility once testing asymptomatic players starts could be quarantining players, coaching and training staffs (and potentially their families) in a fixed location, like Las Vegas or Disney World, and finishing the season there. The league could also choose to bypass the remainder of the regular season and either go straight into the postseason or hold a play-in tournament for bubble teams before beginning the playoffs.

Much is yet to be formally decided. But if the league does resume play, there will likely be some players facing a heightened level of anxiety given the circumstances.