NBA Instructs Teams To Prepare For Games Without Fans

The NBA has sent a memo to its teams requesting that they begin preparations to play games without fans in attendance in case the coronavirus outbreak worsens, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The league memo also asked its franchises to identify “essential staff” that would be required to play the games in empty arenas.

Among the measures that the NBA wants its teams to prepare for is the possibility of making “temperature checks” on various players, team staff members, referees and anyone else deemed “essential” to stage a game without fans, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). The league also reminded its teams of existing rules regarding postponements or cancellations of games, Charania adds in another tweet.

There hasn’t been any noticeable impact on attendance domestically since the outbreak but the coronavirus has led to drastic measures outside North America. Italy, for example, has banned fans from sporting events for at least a month and there is growing fear that the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed or even cancelled.

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62 thoughts on “NBA Instructs Teams To Prepare For Games Without Fans

  1. formerlyz

    Yo what? Straight up, I’ll be ridiculously mad if something like that happens. I pay a lot of money I barely have for season tickets, and for games to be cancelled for something this dumb…I dont even have a coherent response. Meet and greets and season ticket events were apparently cancelled already, as I found out when I showed up to a scheduled one on Wednesday. That isnt that big of a deal, although I do question it in some regard, but cancelling games/playing in an empty arena is unfathomable, especially with the playoffs approaching.

    • I bet you won’t be laughing when civilization ceases to function by next Monday. Maybe Tuesday…Wednesday morning at the latest.

      • formerlyz

        Laughing? If this happens, and there is no reimbursement/something for season ticket holders, I’ll be crying

      • Curtisrowe

        Yes JD, civilization will cease to function soon.
        I bet you were prepared for Y2K as well.

      • HoopsR

        And when nothing happens just like every year with every disease they push to get more funding. You know how much we’ve spent of 9 “reported” deaths (not saying people didn’t die, they could’ve been dying anyways)? Corona beer has killed more people in this same timeline…when will people stop listening to known liars.

        • Wally-the-green-monster

          Lol…#science #conspiracytheory

          Look back on this post in a month Hoops.

          • HoopsR

            Yeah saying just words without sentences isn’t impressive. The people here aren’t stupid, guy. Saying, “Tinfoil hat, derp derp” only shows your ineptitude as a human being. Good luck with all that.
            And what? In a mouth the world is going to end? What are you two years old? Grow up. In a month I’m going to go to work and I’m going to go home and have a brew. Nothing will change, nothing has changed. In a month when the world doesn’t end will you apologize?

    • bushmike51

      If you are complaining you barely have the money for them then why spend your money on something like that instead of bills or something logical

      • formerlyz

        B/c that stuff happened to me right after I bought tickets, trying to do more things I actually enjoy, and it was D-wade’s final season, and I also envisioned certain possibilities moving forward, so it was just as good of a time as any, especially with all the time I’ve spent on the Marlins in the past…it only made sense to put that into an organization that is the total antithesis of that, and actually deserves it

      • formerlyz

        …Also, regardless, I think losing $3k would effect a lot of people, unless you’re really in a certain position

      • hiflew

        Because maybe he wanted to have a little fun in his life instead of just living to work. Paying bills is important, but not at the expense of experiencing life. No one on their deathbed is going to look back and regret not paying the credit card off.

    • I mean they would either offer refunds or reimbursements for those tickets. They’re not just going to let them essentially be wasted and the fans lose their money. Would the atmosphere be weird to say the least? Of course. But you’d rather the sports leagues/teams play it safe and not allow fans rather than allow fans and have that one or two sick fans spread it to almost everyone else in the arena.

      • And trust me when I say this: the last thing the league and the teams want is to cancel games and have a scenario where fans need to get refunds/exchanges for tickets that were cancelled/no fans allowed type of situations. Its a major inconvenience for the fans and the ticket ops departments (which usually have zero say on the matter) are a chaotic mess afterwards because they’re the ones responsible for exchanging/refunding literally thousands of tickets.

    • whoneedsfacts

      Civilization halting over a virus that doesn’t affect 80% of those infected with a point six-five fatality rate. It’s concerning for sure, so it the flu though, your watching too much propaganda.

  2. goldenmisfit

    Anyone else find it ironic the NBA is the only professional sport in this country completely overreacting and they just happen to be the one professional sport in this country with business relationships with China.

    • floridagators

      Fire Adam Silver! I can’t believe he would consider something so terrible! Banish him!!!!!!!!!

    • Howie415

      How is this an overreaction? This going on in Italy. Nobody knows what’s going to happen with virus. Why not proceed with precaution.

    • Football is in the offseason and soccer hasn’t started yet so they don’t count. Baseball and hockey have also taken steps in preparation for this too, its just that not many people care for baseball or hockey (and I’m saying that as a hockey fan).

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        The draft in Nashville last year was a huge success, and with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas it should be huge there too.

        • Howie415

          Well there you have it. The Raiders have moved for the 10th time. The Coronavirus will move. God forbid this the Coronavirus will move to Las Vegas.

  3. hiflew

    This has the potential for disaster. Pro sports leagues have tons of money, but the only reason they have tons of money is the fans. You start pulling out cards from the bottom and pretty soon the entire house falls down.

    I get that people are scared of the virus, but it’s like we are talking about Ebola here. And it only takes one person to spread it. A player, a coach, a cameraman, a referee, an announcer. Any of them could potentially infect everyone else. I think people have watched the movie Outbreak just one too many times.

    • What’s the alternative though? Granted there’s no guarantee a person with corona virus (or any significant spreadable sickness) will go to a game soon but you have to prepare for that. Just recently an employee from CenturyLink Field in Seattle tested positive so now there’s the worry of how much that employee spread. In the event that a fan did get corona virus from going to a game, I’d be willing to bet that they’d file a lawsuit/complaint blaming the team/arena for not having proper medical screenings in place and whatnot. And then the absolute worst case scenario is one of the players and/or coaches getting sick and spreading it from there. They could easily get sick from whatever they do outside the arenas but this is just the NBA prepping for a worst case scenario. Its better to have a plan in place and not need it, rather than need a plan but now you’re scrambling because you don’t actually have one.

      • hiflew

        There has always been potential for someone with an infectious disease to attend a game, concert, or other public event. People are acting as if this is the first infectious disease that humanity has ever had to deal with. Unless we want to spend the rest of our lives hermetically sealed in some type of bubble, then we just might have to take the gamble of interacting with fellow human beings.

        BTW, how are you considering the players getting sick far worse than a fan getting sick?

        • Should’ve clarified, but a player getting sick with corona virus could cause their team (and the other team if the player wasn’t properly diagnosed beforehand) to be put in that mandatory quarantine meaning future games might have to be cancelled.

          And I agree with your point, I’m just saying the NBA has to take steps to prepare. I agree that the frenzy around corona virus has been over the top, but it’s also a bit ignorant to just disregard it and say there’s nothing to worry about.

          • hiflew

            I agree that precaution is probably a good idea. But emptying arenas feels like about 5 steps ahead of where we are now. Meaning a LOT more would have to go wrong before I feel that step would be necessary.

            As far as suing, I don’t think that would work at all. You can’t sue someone for giving you the flu and forcing you to miss work. If you get someone intentionally infecting people, then you might have a case, but otherwise it’s not going work.

            As far as corona goes, there really needs to be a middle between completely dismissing it like the White House and others that are expecting Walking Dead conditions to break out at any time. It is deadlier than the ordinary flu, but it is not likely to be an extinction level event.

            • SheaGoodbye

              “As far as corona goes, there really needs to be a middle between completely dismissing it like the White House and others that are expecting Walking Dead conditions to break out at any time.”

              It’s too bad most folks seem to reside on one side or the other. On the one hand, if you’re old or immunocompromised, I’d be worried about this. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you aren’t batting an eyelash about your own health. The issue is essentially three-fold.

              First, given that the virus can have no outward symptoms, leaving it unchecked could lead to untold amounts of folks contracting it. That could mean millions of death in total. We also don’t know for sure whether one could contract the virus more than once.

              Two, even if I wouldn’t care about my own personal health, if I become a carrier and pass it along to an old/immunocompromised person, I could end up being indirectly responsible for their death. If there were a hypothetical way to eliminate that type of risk, the concerns surrounding the virus would be virtually eliminated.

              Third, the low mortality rates observed thus far may rise if hospitals were to become overwhelmed by the number of diagnosed patients.

              Frankly, it’s a tough situation. Part of me feels like if we can’t stop the virus from spreading, tanking the world economy would be a fruitless exercise that would only exacerbate things. Meanwhile, another part of me thinks we shouldn’t just accept the deaths of folks who could potentially be saved, particularly if we could delay the spread long enough to come up with a vaccine.

              I think it’s good that the NBA is preparing for a worst-case scenario. Beyond that, I don’t have an answer as to what should or shouldn’t be done.

    • twentyforty

      At what point are the officials who manipulate this horrible, unwatchable product….deemed the only “essential” part of the sham?

  4. Theone23

    I think the public is overreacting in general. Corona virus causes the seasonal flu every year, and there have been more deaths from the season flu this year in the US and world wide than from this novel form of Corona virus. It does seem to be worse than the regular common flu that we typically see, but not that much worse. As for the NBA having to cancel games, knock on wood I don’t think it will have to come that. I think Adam silver is rightfully doing his due diligence and ensuring that teams and the league will be prepared if worst case scenario does occur, so that everyone is not caught off guard. It’s the correct and responsible/professional thing to do. I don’t think NBA fans need to over react about potentially having empty stadiums quite yet. With all that being said, make sure you wash your hands!

    • Howie415

      Nobody really knows how many people have died from Coronavirus because not many people have been tested.

      • Theone23

        Well, same could be said for the seasonal flu. Even using estimations, it isn’t even close. Doesn’t change anything really.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      They should just do what is already standard on cruise ships (which are undoubtedly about to lose a ton of money) and put sanitizer on everyone’s hands before they come into the arena. It’s a simple solution.

      • hiflew

        Are you planning on having ushers reapply that sanitizer every time someone coughs or sneezes in the arena? That would great from the perspective of a Purell stockholder, but it might not be that practical. I think emptying the arena is foolish, but it’s definitely not a simple solution.

    • hiflew

      Some are overreacting, but some are underreacting. The Center for Disease Control recommends things so that things don’t become horrible. But the problem is that when you do these things and things don’t become horrible, people want to claim that the CDC overreacted. In reality, doing those things possibly stopped a much worse event. Sometimes overreactions can happen. But when it comes to things like global epidemics, I’d rather the government overreact and have people inconvenienced than underreact and have people dead.

      • Theone23

        Well, I agree, however whatever precautions folks are taking against this novel form of Corona virus should also be taken every single flu season. That’s my general point.

    • SheaGoodbye

      I agree that this is probably the last thing Silver wants to do. Better to be prepared than not to be prepared.

      And while I agree that the public, in general, is overreacting to it—to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less about contracting it myself other than the risk of being a carrier—the coronavirus’s sometimes asymptomatic spread is what separates it from the normal flu in a big way.

      More importantly, to compare U.S. flu deaths to coronavirus deaths is a folly since it hasn’t had much time to spread. But if, say, 20 million folks were to contract the coronavirus here in the U.S., which would be comparable to annual confirmed cases of the flu, that could mean 500k+ deaths and a vastly overburdened healthcare system. That’s nothing to sneeze at, no pun intended.

  5. Cedric Lee

    Wow they’re doing all this just to help the Knicks save face as the attendance numbers dwindle?

  6. x%sure

    NBA games should stay public as an example for kids to stay in schools.

    COVID19 is like any any other flu except it has a higher kill rate. Just watched a Dateline episode and they are putting an emphasis on reassuring people not informing them (except to claim a raised rate of 3.4%). Scares will happen as assurances are shown to be unreliable. “Nobody told us.”

    The old and unhealthy will take the hit in a harsh evolution. This may be acceptible if you’re not old or ill.

    Children do not have to be protected, it’s not a shark. Children should go to school without fear and exchange protective antibodies that will educate all of our immune systems for the next round. Viruses are not cured– they’re just adjusted to superficially with vaccines that inform our immune systems.

    Viruses have gone around before and will go around again. The Chinese claim there are two being called covid10. Viruses are one of their many exports.

    This is not well grasped, but it’s my understanding that “hardy” types (like children in general) will decode the virus internally, unconsciously, produce antibodies to kill it off, and then breathe them on everyone else so they have antibodies too. Hopefully. But kids have to go to school and those stupid air masks have to be set aside.

    • HoopsR

      The kill rate is exagerised by the amount of testing they’ve had. Once they use more tests, the rate will naturally return to the mean.
      Corona is the common cold. It has only “killed” those with already compromised immune systems, aka people that were already at deaths door. No one is at any risk this year more than any year.

      • hiflew

        Exagerised? Don’t try to use words that are beyond your vocabulary. It really hurts your argument. And if you are going to try comparing corona to the common cold, your argument will need all the help you can get.

        • Theone23

          The common cold IS caused by Corona virus, so he’s not too far off. Just a different strain, slightly milder than this novel form. And yes, I am a doctor so I know.

  7. x%sure

    If everyone wears those ugly white masks, maybe the broadcasters will point the camera at the game and not on the first ten rows on the opposite side of the arena.

    That would be quite a sight, like empty arenas are quite a listen. Negatively.

    Flus go around regardless.

  8. Guys, i know you don’t understand about coronavirus.

    It is a very big problem: IF hospitals have rooms for people, only old ones die. But soon rooms become full… That’s the problem.
    Now here, in North Italy, people start to understand… But hospitals are full…
    Next week France and Germany must stop to fake they don’t have an Emergency (they are really like Italy). And then maybe all the North emisphere.

    For sure people under 60 will have small problems… Except if they have parents, of course. I am grateful here all sanity things are for free… Maybe in US is not like this …

  9. Curtisrowe

    I am just making sure I have cases of hand sanitizer in my basement. You know. So I can sanitize my hands. And survive.

    • HoopsR

      I want apologies from everyone who said anything about Corona that wasn’t making fun of it when nothing, like usual, happens. I’m looking at you Silver, you grabbler.

  10. Skip, Tampa

    Way over hyped reaction to this whole thing.
    Granted it could well be a China Bio escape. Could just be another new superbug.
    Betting it was caused by Global Warming.
    Is what it is, so just be safe and live life to it’s fullest seems best course.

  11. metsie1

    Precautions yes. However, this is starting to border on hysteria. Most people recover from the virus with mild symptoms. If people published the flu numbers everyday you would be horrified. Yet we can’t get people to get flu shots.

    • hiflew

      I’ve never once had a flu shot and I haven’t been sick in years. Flu shots are really only important for the really young and the really old. If you are 12-60 without a compromised immune system and someone tells you that you need a flu shot, ask them what part of the health care industry they work for. I’m not an anti-vaxxer by any means, but there is a time for vaccines and there is a time to naturally build up antibodies.

      • stevep-4

        Not really a “health care industry” thing – vaccines are covered preventive care under health plans as part of the Obamacare law, and most pharmacies now provide them free of charge if you ask.

        Overall, I agree with your statement, but, I fall within the years you cite, and since I travel for work a lot, I now get vaccinated as a precaution. This virus is more serious than normal flu, but I also agree that this is hysteria at its finest. As I read somewhere else, this ain’t the Andromeda Strain (look it up on IMDB if you don’t get the reference).

        • hiflew

          I get the reference. Good movie, better book. I am actually working on my masters in medical anthropology, specifically focused on historical pandemics, so I have worked a little in this area.

          The health care industry still makes their money regardless of whether it comes from the individual or the insurance company. They are NEVER out of the equation.

          I may seem like I am arguing both sides of this issue, mainly because I don’t believe there are simply two sides. I am kind of arguing against sides while riding in the center lane. There definitely is something to worry about, including the hysteria of non-infected people, but some people turn it up to 11 when it should be at 3. (hope you get that reference, if not check out This is Spinal Tap)

            • hiflew

              I really wish I had your gift of brevity. Sometimes my fingers just don’t want to stop typing.

  12. stevep-4

    Hey, I have a thought problem:
    If the Bulls lose in the United Center but there is no one there to see it, do they still lose?
    Just wondering if there is an upside to this.

    • hiflew

      With that I’ll go with this. If you decide to sleep for 24 hours, you can still be pretty sure that the sun rose and set while you were out. If the Bulls play a game, you can be pretty sure they lost it while you weren’t watching.

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