What the NBA can learn from China’s attempt to restart basketball during the coronavirus pandemic

The top challenge facing the league is creating a safe environment for players, coaches, referees, support staff and technical operators. An environment that, in the early stages of resuming the season, might not include fans. It might not include travel. It might not even include an arena.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Along with much of the sports world, the NBA has been watching the Chinese Basketball Association. There is optimism in China. There is progress. But the CBA’s struggles to build a coronavirus-safe space to finish out the season foreshadows how difficult resuming play for the NBA will be when the COVID-19 pandemic slows enough to consider such measures.

Chinese players and coaches have been in limbo since Jan. 24, when the CBA shut down during the scheduled Lunar New Year break. Discussions about bringing the league back began as early as mid-February. But the uncertainty about the spread of the coronavirus has clouded the ability to effectively strategize the restart.4

The season was supposed to resume the first week of April, then it moved to April 15. Now the CBA restart has been delayed to late April or early May, sources said. That could mean a layoff of more than three months since the league shuttered.

Teams called foreign players back this past week — more than a dozen Americans, including Jeremy Lin and Lance Stephenson, have returned — and had them enter quarantine for 14 days to ensure that they are healthy and cleared to play in time for a training camp.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The CBA has watched as basketball leagues in Japan and South Korea have attempted returns and canceled them. The CBA knows the eyes of the sporting world are on it and is cognizant of the stakes if there’s a setback, sources said.

The CBA hasn’t formally announced a plan, but multiple sources said that what has been drawn up includes clustering teams in one or two cities and playing one another in a round-robin format in empty arenas over several weeks. There are 16 games left for each of the 20 teams in the league. The goal has been to play out the remaining schedule in full before moving on to the playoffs, with the hope that fans could eventually be admitted.

The CBA has discussed playing in Dongguan, a city in the warmer southern region that hasn’t seen the same volume of cases as other areas. Another option has been Qingdao, a coastal city in northeast China that typically receives many travelers from nearby Japan and South Korea and has developed effective quarantine strategies. Teams would live and play in a constantly monitored environment, with players’ temperatures checked several times a day.

If the plan were to unfold without incident, it could be a strategy the NBA considers among other options. Ideally, NBA teams would be able to train in their facilities and play in their arenas. But in the near term, that might be impossible, especially with escalating health concerns gripping the nation. The NBA could look at venues in a centralized location, perhaps playing in non-NBA cities.