Coaches’ Union Expresses Concerns With NBA’s Medical Review Process

The National Basketball Coaches Association has conveyed to the league its concerns with a series of new medical standards and guidelines for the resumed season in Orlando, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Lowe and Wojnarowski outline, the NBA’s medical review process for coaches and other staffers will involve a team doctor reviewing a lengthy questionnaire on potential risk factors that will be completed by each individual. If the team doctor designates a staffer as “higher-risk,” that individual must receive clearance from relevant specialist physicians.

Even if the staffer receives that clearance, the NBA can flag the person to undergo an additional review with a league-appointed doctor and could prohibit them from going to Orlando if it’s determined that they “would present a direct threat to his or her health,” per ESPN.

According to Lowe and Wojnarowski, NBCA executive director Dave Fogel and president Rick Carlisle expressed concerns about the NBA having the power to prohibit coaches from doing their jobs, noting that being left out of this summer’s restart could “severely jeopardize” those coaches’ future employment opportunities. Three head coaches – Gregg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni, and Alvin Gentry – are at least 65 years old, as are several assistants around the league.

As ESPN’s report notes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently stated that employers could stop employees from going to a workplace if their attendance “poses a direct threat to (the employee’s) health that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.”

The NBA’s policy mimics that “direct threat” language, likely in an effort to avoid a potential legal battle, though legal experts consulted by ESPN believe the league would have a hard time proving that “direct threat” standard, given all the measures being taken to increase safety in the Orlando bubble.

“We feel the medical review process is designed to flag only those individuals who pose significant threats of substantial harm to themselves that cannot be reduced or eliminated by the NBA’s considerable steps to create a healthy and safe atmosphere in Orlando,” the NBCA said in a statement, per ESPN.Adam (Silver) and the NBA have created a situation in Orlando that is likely far safer than in our coaches’ home markets. Absent a significant threat, we believe a coach should be able to understand and assume their individual risks, waive liability, and coach in Orlando.”

D’Antoni and Gentry are represented by the same agent, Warren LeGarie, who told ESPN: “I hope there is a basketball solution to this issue rather than a legal one.”

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6 thoughts on “Coaches’ Union Expresses Concerns With NBA’s Medical Review Process

  1. x%sure

    “Likely far safer than home markets”

    That is not the point or standard to exclusion. A white-collar union relies on a straw man argument, what a surprise.

  2. Buckman

    There may be no safe space in which to operate. 40 to 60% of Covid cases are transmitted by people who are not displaying symptoms. Instead of excluding susceptible individuals, the NBA should admit the bubble idea is a fantasy. Studies have shown that people who never show symptoms can still suffer lung damage. D’Antoni, Pop, and Gentry are just canaries in the coal mine.

  3. Al Hirschen

    Orlando Sentinel
    BREAKING: Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Thursday that he will sign an executive order requiring every person in the county to wear a mask, an effort to try to stem a resurgence of the coronavirus seen in the past 10 days. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the county order will cover the city as well and urged people to wear masks even in the Florida humidity

    • El Don

      That is total madness! Wearing masks is unhygienic & unhealthy at best of times… but in the humidity of Florida at this time of the year, it just beggars believe!!!

      • Buckman

        In the best of times we don’t need to wear masks. Take some more malaria pills and join Kyrie at the next Flat Earth Society meeting.

    • Lionel Muggeridge

      He can just say that the league is protesting. I’ve been told it’s okay to ignore the virus if you’re out there protesting for a good cause

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