Rockets Legend Yao Ming Speaks on CBA Restarting Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

Yao Ming, head of the Chinese Basketball Association and former NBA player looks on during warm up before the Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments match between Korea and China in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

Basketball Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who is currently the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, said the organization is considering three options for a return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have three plans. The first is to play the whole season, the second is to cut some games, the third is to end the regular season and start the playoffs with the league rankings right now," Yao said in an interview with China Central Television.

"We are considering a season play-in tournament while isolating teams and players in closed stadiums and hotels. We will notify the teams 21 days before the league restarts once we make the final decision."

The CBA called international players back to China in April and planned to resume its season April 15 but pushed that back until at least July because of the virus. The league already planned to bar fans from attending games and sequester players in hotels, hoping to resume the games as safely as possible. 

"Fortunately, our restart plan got help from the experts recommended by the academic Zhong [Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan]. His wife [Li Shaofen] is a former member of the national team, who gave us many useful suggestions. With their help, we are more confident of the CBA's return," he said.

The CBA suspended play Feb. 1, with most teams having played 30 of their 46 scheduled regular-season games. The Guangdong Southern Tigers were leading the CBA with a 28-2 record when play was suspended. 

Twelve of the league's 20 teams make the postseason.