In the United States, a country ravaged by chaos and the highest amount of Covid-19 cases, the NBA produced a real success story in 2020.
The LA Lakers may have won their 17th NBA Championship, but it was the organisation itself which was the real winner in 2020. Not one player, coach or official tested positive for Covid-19 during the three months spell where 172 games were played.
The remainder of the NBA season was condensed to 22 out of 30 teams who had a realistic chance of making the playoffs to reduce numbers.
All 22 teams were placed into strict bubbles at Walt Disney World in Orlando costing $170 million in total. All team members had to quarantine in their hotel rooms for two days upon arrival and test negative twice in order to be eligible to play matches.
The NBA produced a rule book of more than 100 pages of Covid-19 protocols to protect all the players and staff, from the sanitization of basketballs to capturing excess droplets from the referees’ whistles.
While players were in the bubble they had to wear masks and maintain their social distance when possible.
There was a limited number of outsiders including reporters allowed into the bubble and access to the players was also limited. Anyone part of the bubble who left without permission had to quarantine for 10 days.
Players and staff were regularly tested for Covid-19 and were made wear alarms that would go off whenever someone broke their two-metre distance.
Other measures such as temperature, heart monitors and access wristbands were given to each team member.
Disney World was the ideal location for the bubbles. It was incredibly spacious with ballrooms and other arenas being converted to basketball courts.
There were multiple hotels and restaurants on-site so each team had a safe bubble. Players were also granted use of the facilities to combat boredom such as video game areas, pools, golf courses, and bowling lanes.
This season didn’t go without some testing requirements. Four players were found to have breached the regulations: Lou Williams, Richaun Holmes, Bruno Caboclo and DanuelHouse. None of these violations had an effect on the bubble.
In the end, there were zero positive Covid-19 cases for the duration of the bubble (around 90-95 days) with much of the credit going to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
The virus may not be beatable at the moment, but the NBA showed how it can be prevented while getting on with life.
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