While Disney World near Orlando, Florida, has long been a popular destination for vacationing families, it has never been a mecca for an entire professional sports league.
Beginning today at 5:30 pm., when the Utah Jazz face off against the New Orleans Pelicans, that will change.
The NBA and Disney reached an agreement to have games played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort earlier this summer. The venue was chosen to be the one and only “bubble campus” for the NBA restart. The bubble method was chosen as an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus within the players, coaches, and other staff members of the 22 NBA teams participating for the remainder of the season.
The NBA has been shut down since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to CBS Sports, until the teams began holding scrimmage games against each other, they were asked to only interact with players and coaches in their own hotel and to take social distancing measures into consideration when doing so.
After scrimmages and games began, players were free to interact with anyone on campus. At no point, however, will players be allowed into anyone else’s hotel room. In addition, everyone will be required to wear a face mask in any common area, unless they are eating or doing physical activity.
The 22 teams in Orlando will be separated among three different hotels so that the majority of interactions in with the same group of people.
Other than trying to mitigate the spread of the virus by limiting contact, the NBA has taken an approach that prioritizes testing. A lot of testing.
According to USA Today, “In the two weeks before the players traveled to Orlando, the NBA required they had to be tested for the coronavirus. As they arrived in a staggered three-day period from July 7 to 9, each player was to quarantine in his room for more than 24 hours and complete two negative COVID-19 tests.”
After the initial tests, players and staff have undergone regular coronavirus testing as determined by the NBA in consultation with its medical experts and the NBPA.
The NBA and NBPA announced Wednesday that of the 344 players tested for COVID-19 on the NBA campus since July 20, zero have returned positive tests.
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When regular-season play does resume this evening, the format for the remainder of the year will also look wildly different than seasons past.
According to the NBA website, “The seven teams in each conference with the best records (regular-season games + seeding games) will have clinched a playoff spot. The usual tie-breaker scenarios will be in place for those seeds. The eighth seed could potentially come down to a play-in tournament.”
The play-in tournament will be contested if the ninth seed in the conference is less than four games behind the eighth seed at the conclusion of the seeding games. The tournament will simply consist of two games between the eighth and ninth seed in that conference. If the ninth-seeded team wins both matchups, it is in and the previously eighth-seeded team will be eliminated.
After that, with eight teams remaining in each conference, the format for the rest of the playoffs will be the same as it has been in the past.
Two Iowa grads could see action following the restart as both the Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards are among the 22 teams competing after the resumption of play.
Jarrod Uthoff (Wizards) and Tyler Cook (Nuggets) both signed contracts with their respective teams earlier this month.