The NBA was the first professional sports league to suspend its season due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United State. That was back on March 11. Some three weeks later, the rapid spread of coronavirus is engulfing the country leaving everyone, including the NBA, uncertain about the future.
While no one knows for certain when the league may resume play, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is optimistic that it will be sooner rather than later. He appeared on WFAA-TV Channel 8 in Dallas on Monday and laid out his prediction as to when games may begin again.
”Hopefully by the middle of May, we’re starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games,” Cuban said. “Maybe not with fans, but we’re playing it because sports plays such an important role. You know, people want something to cheer for, people want something to rally around, people want something to be excited about.”
Before the league postponed its season, it mulled the idea of playing games without fans. In fact, it scheduled a game that fans couldn’t attend between the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets at the Chase Center in San Francisco. It was to take place the day after the NBA announced its moratorium on games.
Even with the possibility of playing games without fans, there’s still path ahead before Cuban’s prediction can become a reality. Dallas County is currently under a shelter-in-place ordinance that is in effect until April 3. With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county—169 as of March 24—continuing to climb, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins will likely extend it. The ordinance prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.
Possibly complicating the NBA’s return further is the patchwork response to the outbreak that the nation is seeing at a federal, state, county, and municipal level. The Mavericks, for their part, are doing what they can to alleviate the strain put on local first responders and organizations.
Despite the many complications and uncertain future ahead, the league will eventually begin playing games again, if you believe Cuban. He speaks as if sports are important to our society—they’d certainly be a welcome distraction right now—but there’s an ulterior motive to getting the NBA back up and running: Money.
The league and its players, who take home half of all basketball related income, stand to lose a lot of money if the season doesn’t resume. This ranges from TV deals, ticket sales, and merchandise, to name just a few sources of league income. The NBA is feeling the economic downturn just like the rest of the country.
At the end of the day, Cuban says that it will be up to scientists and medical professional to decide what is safe and how best to move forward. Just like everyone else, the NBA will have to wait and see what happens.
”I’m proud of Adam Silver,” Cuban said. “I’m proud of the NBA and the way we’ve reacted. I think we’ve led the way, and hopefully will lead the way out of this.
”I mean you know no one has perfect information right now, and so all decisions are tough. But, you know, if I had to guess based off the people I’ve talked to at the CDC and other places—I would say that the over under would be June 1, and I’m taking the under.”