Staging an NBA Game, Even For Charity, Is a Bad Idea Right Now

Adam Silver should really consider this before proceeding.
Adam Silver should really consider this before proceeding. / Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Adam Silver, who has emerged as a forward-thinking and responsible leader through the coronavirus pandemic, provided an NBA update during an interview with SportsCenter on Wednesday, In it, he floated the idea of staging a charity game between players as a diversion for fans.

"A third option that we are looking at now ... the impact on the national psyche of having no sports programming on television," he said. "And one of the things we've been talking about are, are there conditions in which a group of players could compete -- maybe it's for a giant fundraiser or just the collective good of the people -- where you take a subset of players and, is there a protocol where they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another?"

While Silver's heart is in the right place, such an idea seems extremely unlikely to happen. The logistics are difficult and the optics (there's that dreaded word again) would not be beneficial to the league. Yes, raising money for charity is of crucial importance. But there's nothing stopping those associated with the league and public and private sectors from reaching into their wallets right now. Staging a game where the risk has been mitigated -- but still carries a risk -- is not essential to the ultimate goal.

The elephant in the room is the somewhat stunning trend of NBA players having more access to coronavirus testing than virtually anyone else in society. Silver addressed that perception by saying the league has simply been following the advice of medical professionals.

Whatever you think about what has happened with the testing in the haves vs. have nots department, it'll be under closer scrutiny going forward. Using up dozens of tests -- perhaps with a few rounds of testing -- all so professional athletes can play a game that doesn't matter is a tremendous misuse of resources. At least for now. Hopefully, not far down the road, the idea can be revisited with the assurance the public is also being served and protected.

Again, there's no reason to criticize the NBA for the idea. Wanting to do something to bring joy to an increasingly joyless nation is admirable. But this, like everything else, must be weighed critically before advancing.