An anonymous tip line to report rules violations. Preapproved golf outings. Protocols for how to properly disinfect basketballs. Table tennis is allowed — but singles, no doubles.
The N.B.A. on Tuesday night detailed its elaborate plan for resuming play this summer by sending a 113-page handbook to team personnel, with a heavy emphasis on health and safety protocols as the league seeks to salvage its season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The season, which was suspended in March, is set to restart on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex — part of Walt Disney World — near Orlando, Fla., where players and team personnel will be subject to stringent testing and remain largely isolated from the rest of the world through the playoffs.
Still, the N.B.A.’s comeback attempt is both ambitious and fraught with potential hazards. Florida, which was among the first states to loosen its social distancing guidelines, has re-emerged as a coronavirus hot spot. On Wednesday, the state reported 2,783 new cases, a record, as the seven-day average continued to rise, according to The New York Times’s coronavirus tracking database. Orange County, the home of Walt Disney World, has also had a recent increase in cases.
The N.B.A.’s handbook, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, is exhaustive, itemizing the six phases of its restart, the first of which is underway: voluntary workouts as players make their way back to team training facilities.
Beginning July 7, teams are scheduled to begin arriving on the Disney campus “on a staggered basis,” according to the handbook. Once on site, players and team personnel must quarantine until they test negative for the coronavirus twice, at least 24 hours apart. Players, staff and anyone else inside the so-called bubble will continue to be tested daily.
After that, teams will begin group activities — a training camp of sorts.
The N.B.A.’s elaborate ecosystem at Disney will also feature six tiers of personnel, starting with Tier 1: players, coaches, health and performance staff, equipment managers and referees. Those people will have access to the most restricted areas on campus, including locker rooms, practice and game courts, weight rooms and player lounges.
Tier 2 will include team security, front office personnel, team communications staff, select members of the news media, player guests (once they are allowed on campus) and even some barbers and manicurists who are preapproved by the league. Personnel in the rest of the tiers — everyone ranging from housekeepers and catering staff to team owners to members of the “broadcast compound” — will not be permitted to have close contact with anyone from the first two tiers, as the league seeks to minimize risk.
Failure to adhere to the protocols, according to the guide, can result in a warning, fine, suspension or dismissal from the campus. Guests of players are also liable to be kicked out for violating the protocols.
More From the N.B.A.’s Protocols
Commissioner Adam Silver had floated the idea of restricting which coaches could sit on the bench, particularly referring to coaches who are older and at higher risk of the symptoms from the coronavirus. He backed off that statement soon after. There appear to be no restrictions on who can travel to Orlando, unless the player or coach tests positive in the phases preceding the arrival or lives with someone who “recently had Covid-19 or symptoms associated with Covid-19.”
All players and team staff must wear face masks at all times on campus. Well, sort of. If players are doing something that is not within six feet of someone else, masks are not required. The league lists examples like walking, swimming, “relaxing outside” and “watching a movie on an iPad.”
Players will not be allowed to shower at any of the ESPN arenas or facilities. That means no postgame showers — until players are back at their hotels.
Disney staff members who are not staying on campus will not undergo the league’s testing regimen. Instead, they will be required by Disney to wear face coverings, as well as to maintain physical distancing. The league will aim to prevent Disney employees from being in contact with those involved with the N.B.A. restart, unless required.
The guide says, “No one will be stopped from leaving the campus,” but that players and staff should not do so unless there are “extenuating circumstances.” Among the places that players will be allowed to go: “Auxiliary sites — either on or off Disney property — that are secured by the N.B.A. for approved use by N.B.A. players or staff (e.g., a golf course).”
If a player does leave the campus without permission and tries to re-enter, he will be quarantined for at least 10 days.
Players will not be allowed to spend time with one another in their hotel rooms.
No sharing towels, clothing or deodorant. And players will also be advised to stop fiddling so much with their mouth guards.
More from the hygiene department: The league wants players to cut down on all the high-fives, fist bumps and hugs. And to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, at least when they’re not on the court.
The league says it will make socially distant recreational activities available for players. Per the handbook: “Such activities are expected to include the provision of a game room or player lounge at each hotel (e.g., Ping-Pong, “NBA2K,” pool, dominoes, etc.), golf, swimming, fishing, the potential for other water sports, movie screenings, concerts, running trails, bike rides and other excursions.”
Since physical distancing is difficult while playing cards, the N.B.A. specifically says players must wear face masks if they choose to play, say, poker. They must throw away the deck of cards after the game has concluded.
No caddies on the golf course.
No sharing goggles or snorkels in the swimming pool.
There will be a bonus of sorts for teams that survive the first round of the playoffs: guests. Each team that advances into the conference semifinals will have the option of reserving up to 17 additional hotel rooms for invited guests, and those guests can be anyone — spouses, children, friends, massage therapists — provided they fulfill a litany of “participation requirements” that range from signing waivers to undergoing rigid testing protocols. They must also quarantine both before and after arriving on campus.
And then there is the tip line: The league says it will encourage anyone on campus to report violations of any of the protocols via an anonymous hotline. Players will also be allowed to report potential violations through their teams or the players’ association. Violations, of course, are a big no-no, which could lead to disciplinary action.
Failure to adhere to the protocols, according to the guide, can result in a warning, fine, suspension or removal from the campus for players and staff. Guests of players are also liable to be kicked off the campus if they are found to be in violation of the protocols.
Source: Basketball - nytimes.com