Over the last few weeks, the stars appeared to align for the NBA to restart the 2019-20 season in a "bubble" down in Orlando on the Disney grounds. The format has been agreed upon and details have begun to emerge about how the league planned to prevent the spread of coronavirus while the players are together.
There may be a big speed bump coming basketball's way, though. Adrian Wojnarowski reported yesterday that there were some players who didn't feel comfortable with the plan to start everything back up again in the midst of a global pandemic. Today, the ESPN insider reported that number right now is 40-50 players, nearly a quarter of all the anticipated participants when events are supposed to kick off on July 30.
If each team brings the maximum 17 players allowed per roster, as has been previously reported, that puts the total number at 374. Fifty is a pretty good chunk of those players. It doesn't seem likely that there are superstars among that group after it was reported in May that LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo were among the players to participate in a conference call advocating for this very scenario.
But that's still a lot! "Watered-down competition" should be at the very bottom of the list of concerns that come along with doing this right now, but the NBA will be worried about that outcome as far as it relates to drawing viewers. And nobody should blame any player who doesn't want to risk infection and leave their family.
It will be, and always has been, impossible to fully ensure everyone's safety. Every player will have to weigh the risk and reward of traveling to Florida as July approaches.