Silver gives players road map for future

CHICAGO: File photo shows, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during a press conference at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. – AFP

LOS ANGELES: Adam Silver said Friday a decision on when the NBA can restart could come sometime in June with the league looking to play out of one or two hubs with Orlando and Las Vegas being the lead contenders. Speaking in a conference call open to all NBA players and designed to update them on the league’s status among the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the league commissioner was joined on the call by players’ union executive director Michele Roberts.

Silver told the players that if there is no vaccine the league could end up playing with no fans in the stands into 2021, US media said. He wants daily testing for all players and those testing positive quarantined. The games would go on with officials making sure the others were all constantly being monitored and tested.

With travel problematic amid social distancing and stay-at-home requirements in a number of American states, the league believes it would be safer to return to action in just one or two sites, with Orlando and Las Vegas being the frontrunners. “There’s no point in adding risk for flying all of you city to city if there’s not going to be fans. We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start,” he said in a recording of the call obtained by ESPN.

Silver also said one of the “single greatest challenges of our lives” was having fans in attendance because 40 percent of the NBA’s revenues come from directly from the games through tickets, sponsorship deals and concessions.
He said all 30 owners are committed to resuming play and the league is leaning toward a minimum of three weeks of training camp ahead of the restart. But ESPN reported earlier Friday the idea of basing teams in a giant quarantined zone has been met with skepticism by the players.

The proposal floundered after they wondered how the zone would be policed to guarantee isolation. “When that one was first floated, there was some consternation,” Roberts told ESPN before the call. “Are we going to arm guards around the hotel? That sounds like incarceration to me.”

“So then, the players were like, ‘Well, I don’t know that it’s worth it to be away from my family for that long. “We could do all that, and then what happens when one or two or 10 players test positive after that 28-day isolation? Do we shut it down?” Reports last month said the NBA had studied the feasibility of staging the entirety of the post-season in a locked down part of Las Vegas. The NBA has been in shutdown since the global pandemic brought sport to a standstill, forcing the suspension or postponement of every professional league in North America.

Silver also said Friday that when the NBA season was halted on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive, Gobert wasn’t the first player to be tested. He was just the first to test positive. Friday’s conference took place on the same day that teams are being allowed to reopen practice facilities for limited workouts, which will take place under strict safety protocols.

Meanwhile, Vanessa Bryant is suing the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department over unauthorized photographs of the scene at the helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
People magazine obtained the legal claim filed on Friday in which Vanessa Bryant seeks damages for emotional distress and mental anguish in the wake of revelations that eight sheriff’s department deputies took graphic photos of the scene and shared them with others.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among nine people who died in the January 26 helicopter crash in the mountains west of Los Angeles. According to the court filing obtained by People, “no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches. “As the Department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”

The only people authorized to take pictures of the scene were investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the coroner’s office. Sheriff Alex Villanueva acknowledged in March that deputies had taken photos of the crash scene, after the Los Angeles Times reported the existence of the pictures. Entertainment news website reported then that a bartender had lodged a complaint after hearing a trainee sheriff’s deputy showing the images to a customer in a bar.

Villanueva said in March that the department had identified the deputies involved and ensured that the photos were destroyed so that they could not be circulated further. At that time Vanessa Bryant asked for an internal affairs investigation and sanctions for all involved. “Rather than formally investigate the allegations to identify the extent of dissemination and contain the spread of the photos, Department leadership reportedly told deputies that they would face no discipline if they just deleted the photos,” the filing reads, according to People.

The legal claim also states that Vanessa Bryant has been made aware that some of the photos have surfaced on the internet. “This (lawsuit) solely is about enforcing accountability, protecting the victims and making sure no one ever has to deal with this conduct in the future,” a spokesperson for the Bryant family told People. – AFP

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