NBA team presidents are unanimous in wanting to resume the 2019-20 season halted by the coronavirus pandemic as soon as it’s safe, San Antonio Spurs chief executive R.C. Buford says.
Buford spoke on a conference call with Texas reporters on Thursday, according to a posting on the NBA’s website, and dismissed any notion team executives were wanting to shut down the campaign.
“I just got off a team presidents’ call before I jumped on with you guys, and every intention is to return to play and to try to create the best environment we can for the league and for the fans,” Buford said. “We’re all on board for that.”
A CNBC report Thursday said some team executives and player agents had pushed for the season to be called off, with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James taking to Twitter to say he hadn’t heard any such suggestions and was ready to resume the season.
Buford said talks continue about what a return might look like and when spectators might be able to attend NBA games again.
“We’re having those discussions with the league, and most of those discussions will be league-wide determinations on how we present our games at the point and time when we do present our games,” Buford said.
“There’s so much conversation right now about how we can best engage our games and our fans. No decisions have been made. This is unchartered territory.
“We would love to be able to interact with our community in a safe environment. I think the league’s mission is to do that once we have all the information we need to be able to accomplish that.”
The NBA is examining several return scenarios, but whether or not the regular season is completed before playoffs begin remains uncertain.
“Until we’re clear on the timing for a safe environment, it’s impossible to designate the individual scenarios that might happen,” Buford said.
“We’re modeling multiple scenarios that have not only our teams, our league, our players, our media partners — there are multiple people at those tables having those decisions, and we hope we’ll do what’s best for our fans.
“Around the country and around the world, people are missing sports and we’re missing playing. I think that’s the problem we’re trying to solve.”
– Can’t just blow whistle –
Buford said team fitness trainers have worked with players on fitness workouts over iPads from each person’s garages, with some players doing injury rehabilitation at home while guided from afar by trainers.
Buford is on a league competition advisory group concerned about how much time it would take players to return to playing shape after such an extended break without gym workouts.
“I would guess that there are many of these guys that have never gone two months without being able to get into a gym,” Buford said.
“Everybody’s dying to get in and dribble a ball. But I do think that we can’t just blow a whistle and 10 days later think that we’re going to put our players in an environment that’s safe to return.”
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