After NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended the 2019-20 NBA Season on March 11 following Utah Jazz Player Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus test (Gobert was the league’s first player to test positive for COVID-19), a lot of resources, money, and hours were put into creating the NBA’s Return Plan at Disneyworld.
On June 4, the league’s Board of Governors approved of The NBA’s Return Plan that would resume the 2019-20 season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. At the time of the NBA’s suspension, all 30 teams had about less than 10 games left to play to conclude the regular season. However, under the NBA’s Return Plan, only 22 Teams (13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams) will play eight regular-season “seeding” games, a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed and playoffs at the Walt Disney World Resort, ESPN reported. Once the post-season teams are confirmed, playoffs will begin (how The NBA Playoffs and Finals will work inside of the bubble will be explained in more detail below).
With the NBA Season resuming on July 30, a lot of discussions have been made by the media and fans about The NBA’s Return Plan. Players from all 22 NBA Teams that were invited to The NBA Restart are currently in the bubble (those who received a positive COVID-19 test are either in the bubble’s isolation housing units or back at their team’s home market) preparing and practicing for those eight regular-season “seeding” games.
The handbook with all of the details and protocols regarding the NBA’s Return Plan is 113 pages long. All of the takeaways from the NBA’s Return Plan featured in this article vary from health protocols, rules for free-time activities, how playoffs and the eight regular-season “seeding games” will work, how COVID-19 Testing will be conducted in the bubble, to name a few.
Now, with all of that information being said, let’s take a look down below and check out 12 of the Most Interesting Takeaways From The NBA’s Return Plan:
1. The Snitch Hotline:
Out of everything detailed in the 113-page memo for the NBA’s Return Plan, the one aspect that had everyone (from the media to fans to current and former NBA players) talking was The NBA’s Anonymous Hotline … known better as the “Snitch Hotline”.
The league’s intended purpose in setting up The NBA Anonymous Hotline was to allow players and coaching staff to report any social distancing violations anonymously. However, the NBA Anonymous Hotline blew up on social media and since been known has the “NBA Snitch Hotline”. Many have taken to Twitter and other social media sites to roast and/or predict which players they believe will most likely use the hotline. The photo below is one of the many hilarious memes/tweets (see the photo below)related to the NBA Snitch Hotline. Seriously, type “NBA Snitch Hotline” into Twitter search to see some pretty savage tweets.
2. The Protocols For Players Who Leave The NBA Bubble Without Permission:
As we saw heard this week, two NBA Players are currently confined to their hotel rooms for a 10-day quarantine after accidentally breaking the league’s campus bubble: Sacramento Kings Player Richaun Holmes (on the left) for crossing the “NBA Bubble Line” to pick-up a food order and Houston Rockets Player Bruno Caboclo (on the right) for inadvertently leaving his room during the initial quarantine period after arriving in Orlando (which all members from each team’s travel party had to do when they first arrived to the Bubble).
As they left The Bubble without permission, Holmes and Caboclo (and any other player who violates the rule), will have to go through a 10-day quarantine upon their return to Disney. They will also need to register two negative tests as well as an antibody test before returning to play.
3. The Protocols for Players With Permission To Leave The NBA Bubble:
Under The NBA’s Return, players will only be allowed to leave to the bubble if they receive permission to do so. ESPN reported that excused absences that fall under the category of players or staff being allowed to leave the NBA Campus include family emergencies, the birth of a child, or other approved reasons. For example, it was reported on July 16 that New Orleans Pelicans Player Zion Williamson (see below) was given permission to leave the bubble due to an urgent family medical matter.
Upon their return, players like Williamson who had permission to leave the bubble will be subjected to a 4-day quarantine as long as they tested negative for COVID-19 each day they were outside of the NBA campus.
4. What Happens If Someone In The Bubble Tests Positive For The Coronavirus?:
The league has stated multiple times that all players and team personnel on the NBA Campus in Orlando will be tested for the coronavirus daily. However, if someone inside of the NBA Bubble tests positive for COVID-19, that person will be isolated and retested to make sure there isn’t a false positive.
If the retest turns out to be a positive coronavirus result, The NBA’s Return Plan states that the person will begin treatment and will undergo a period of rest and recovery lasting at least 14 days in quarantine. As doctors are concerned with about the potential cardiovascular risks that come along with having the COVID-19, NBA Players testing positive for the virus in the Orlando Bubble will be restricted from exercise and must also pass a series of cardiac tests before being clerked to play basketball again.
5. The Only “Fans” Allowed To Attend The Games:
According to The NBA’s Return Plan, all games will be played at three different arenas located at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. While no outside fans (including MLS Players, who are also playing the MLS Seasons at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex) will be allowed to attend the games, a limited number of players will be allowed to watch games they are not playing in. In addition, a limited number of media, team executives, league and union personnel and even some sponsors will also be allowed to watch in-person too.
6. Basketball Cleaning Guidelines:
Another important takeaway from The NBA’s Return Plan is the detailed cleaning guidelines that NBA Team Staff Members must follow to clean the basketball properly post-practice, post- individual workout, and post-game.
USA Today stated that: “[NBA] team staff will have to clean the basketball using dish detergent mixed with a gallon of water, wiping down in a clean towel, wiping down the basketball with just water, allowing the basketball to air dry, then spraying with a disinfectant.”
7. No Showers After The Game:
Usually, NBA players take a shower in the locker room after games before heading off to do media interviews and getting treatment. However, while in the bubble in Orlando, players won’t be allowed to do so at any of the ESPN arenas or facilities.
According to The NBA’s Return Plan, all players won’t be able to take their post-game showers until they arrive back at their hotels. The bus rides home to their hotels are going to be super uncomfortable and smelly.
8. When Guests are Allowed:
While I said earlier that no outside fans will be permitted to attend any NBA Games in the Orlando Bubble, families of NBA Players and Coaching Staffs will be allowed in the bubble to watch games at a later date.
According to The Los Angeles Times, teams that advance past the first round of The NBA Playoffs will be allowed to reserve up to 17 rooms for guests for families. While The NBA will pay for food and coronavirus testing, players will responsible to pay for the hotel rooms used by their guests. Guests who leave the NBA Bubble will not be allowed to return.
9. Wearing Masks:
Mask Usage in the NBA Bubble, according to ESPN, will be mandatory for everyone inside unless they are eating or when in another person’s hotel room. However, when it comes to outdoor activities, masks aren’t required. For games, players, coaches, referees and bench players who are sitting in the first row of seating will not be forced to wear masks.
10. Plenty of Cards:
As you have seen recently on many NBA Player’s social media accounts (p.s. follow @nbabubblelife on Twitter and Instagram if you want to see all of the action going on in the NBA Bubble), whenever they aren’t in practice or in their hotel rooms (unless they are still in quarantine), the NBA’s Return Plan listed a variety of activities that players could partake in during their free time. These activities include golf (no caddies though), fishing, video games (many players brought their gaming stations with them to Orlando), table tennis (see below), and cards.
As practicing social distancing while playing cards is not practicable, The NBA’s Return plan established a series of rules for when it comes to cards games. NBA Players must still refrain from all unnecessary physical contact and must wear facemasks while playing (unless the game takes place outside and all participants are at least six feet apart). Card games must also be six players or less. In addition, each deck of cards can be used one-time only (The NBA’s Return Plan promised that “Sufficient packs of cards will be available (in the bubble)).
11. No Doubles Allowed For Table Tennis:
Another one of the most interesting takeaways from the NBA’s return plan was the rules regarding table tennis. As NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted: “My favorite detail in the 113-page health-and-safety protocol for Orlando shared with teams in past several minutes: No doubles in ping pong. “Until directed otherwise by the NBA, players should play singles only so that they can maintain six feet of distance from each other.”
12. What The Full Game Schedule For The NBA’s Return Plan Looks Like:
As I said earlier, the NBA Season will be resuming on July 30. Click here to see the NBA’s Return Plan schedule for the eight regular-season “seeding” games. Take a look at the screenshot of the tweet below to see the dates of the NBA Playoffs and Finals.