The NBA and its owners are moving toward a scenario where games are played with essential personnel only and no fans, a person familiar with Wednesday’s conference call with NBA Commissioner Adam SIlver and owners told USA TODAY Sports.
Another scenario was discussed: halting league operations for a period of time. While that idea had some traction, continuing the season was the favored option, the person said.
The league is expected to make a decision Thursday after more conversations with key stakeholders. The health and safety of players and fans remain the league’s top priority. If the league decides to play games with no fans, it does not preclude the league from changing its position in a fluid situation. If a player contracted the virus, the league could take the bold step of halting play.
the Golden State Warriors adhered to San Francisco’s direct ban of any events that host at least 1,000 people, and Thursday’s game between the Warriors and Brooklyn Nets will be played without fans. The Warriors announced it will give fans the option either to receive a refund or exchange tickets for future games.
The league has spoken with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials for the past week so that it could further educate its teams about safety measures and outline contingency plans on how it would handle future games. In turn, NBA teams have had discussions with team doctors on what safety precautions to take, which have included washing hands regularly, avoiding handshakes and minimizing or eliminating autographs.
By hosting games without fans in their respective arenas, teams are expected to lose a significant amount of money because of lost revenue from tickets and concessions. Yet, the league also offset some of its financial losses by declining to postpone or cancel the games entirely. The league would have encountered a logistical nightmare with rescheduling 263 games among 30 teams just before the regular season is scheduled to end April 15. The NBA playoffs begin April 18.
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