N.B.A. in Talks to Resume Season at Walt Disney World Resort

The N.B.A. is in the early stages of discussions with the Walt Disney Company to restart its suspended season in late July at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a league spokesman said Saturday.

The restart, said Mike Bass, the spokesman, would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which would act as “a single site for an N.BA. campus for games, practices and housing.” ESPN, which is owned by Disney, is a broadcast partner for the N.B.A.

“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” Bass said in a statement.

The N.B.A. was among the first major sports leagues to suspend its season on March 11 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, beginning a cascade of other leagues doing the same. Since the postponement, several N.B.A. players, including the Nets star Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the virus.

“We want to get sports back. We miss sports,” Trump said last weekend. “We need sports in terms of the psyche of our country. And that’s what we’re doing.”

There are still several hurdles that must be crossed before a resumed season at Walt Disney World becomes a reality. One is the optics of testing. The league was criticized when some of its teams were able to obtain tests for their players even though there was a nationwide testing shortage, raising questions of greater accessibility for the wealthy.

On Tuesday, Bass said, “Regular testing will be key in our return to play,” and that the league wanted to ensure that it “does not come at the expense of testing front line health care workers or others who need it.”

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, told The Athletic earlier this month that he would not be willing to bring his team back unless all members of the team could get daily testing.

Any return to play must also come with a green light from the N.B.A. players’ union. A spokeswoman for the union did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is also unclear what the logistics of such a return would be, such as how many, if any, fans would be allowed into an arena for games, how freely players would be allowed to move around or what kind of testing would take place.

The games would almost assuredly be run without fans in the stands, as has been the case for some other recent sporting events in golf and soccer. Any return to play would also have added risks for players or team personnel who have underlying health conditions, or for people over 65, a group that includes three head coaches.

When the N.B.A. came to a halt in March, the league had completed roughly 80 percent of its season. The league on Saturday did not say whether it would play the remaining regular-season games or jump straight into the playoffs. (Bass did not immediately respond to messages seeking additional information.)

The N.B.A.’s board of governors is scheduled to have a call on Friday, and teams are expected to start recalling players to team facilities in early June. Teams have been informed that they will likely be allowed to have about 35 members of the team — between staff, players and coaches — at the site, according to three people briefed on the league’s plans. Some teams typically travel with more than 50.

At least one player, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, has raised one of the issues the league and the union will have to navigate if the league, as some have suggested, returns and goes straight to the playoffs.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which opened in 1997, is a multisport complex covering more than 200 acres in Kissimmee, Fla., and is part of the Orlando-based Walt Disney World Resort. It has routinely hosted several basketball events over the years, including college invitationals, A.A.U. tournaments and the Jr. NBA World Championship.

The N.B.A.’s announcing its attempt to finish this season comes weeks after Major League Baseball formalized a proposal from owners to salvage its own season — one that would last 82 games with an expanded playoff field. The league’s plan has run into heavy resistance from the players’ union over its salary structure. Like the N.B.A., the M.L.B.’s revenue comes in no small part from fans in the stands.

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