The NBA regular season began on Tuesday and despite precautions and protocols in place due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a game has already been postponed. The Houston Rockets failed to field the league-required eight available players to start a regular season game. Therefore, their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed.
The fears around the NBA are that this is not just a glitch on the radar, but rather a sign of a long and tumultuous road ahead. There is no guarantee that the season will be successful. As one NBA executive noted, players have to be careful to follow the protocols in details and teams will be only as strong as their weakest link.
Much like the rest of society, the amount of spread of Covid-19 in the NBA depends on each and every person involved. What makes this different and even more of a challenge is that even players that are asymptomatic can cause postponements in games, if they are exposing themselves to teammates, coaches and staff. In other sports, such as the NFL and MLB, if a single player or two players miss time due to Covid-19, the games will still go on. With the NBA rosters smaller, that magnifies the severity of the situation, where numerous games could perhaps be changed.
While the NBA was hopeful to get the season off without a hitch, the naysayers will be first to say that what happened with the Rockets game was bound to happen. This could lead to rescheduling of games, the calendar being pushed back or games lost and a significantly reduced schedule.
This is where NBA commissioner Adam Silver needs to step in and enforce the protocols to control everything before it gets out of hand. Houston Rockets’ star James Harden, who obviously wants out of Houston, violated the protocols more than once and seemingly doesn’t seem to deny the latest. James Harden was out at a club last week partying, which is a clear violation of the rules, banning socializing in groups of more than 15 people.
The biggest problem is that the commissioner needs to aggressively punish those that break the rules. While it’s not easy to just stay home all the time and avoiding social contact, this is what these multi-millionaire NBA stars must follow or risk losing the NBA season. However, the protocols must be set aggressively, or the players won’t follow and that’s the reality of the situation.