How The NBA’s Interests In China Gave The League Foresight On The Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 is re-writing daily routines across the globe. The response to the pandemic differs across the world, but no group is handling the crisis with seamless flexibility like Adam Silver and the NBA.

Commissioner Adam Silver discussing the NBA suspension on ESPN

The NBA’s response is impressive due to how league prioritized instant isolation and testing, as well as general care for the health of their laborers and consumers. One important note to add is how intensely the NBA has reviewed data from respected health organizations, their employees abroad, and even ex-US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to figure out how to best maneuver during these trying times.

The steps the NBA are taking to prevent the spread among their employees after shutting down games is showing a small scale blueprint of the type of action that can be taken to prevent the spread in other areas, if the resources are there. The league instilled temperature checks at team facilities before eventually shutting those down as well in response to the news that 14 players have now tested positive for COVID-19.

The NBA shutdown before most of the country and prevented more community spread of the disease. The day the NBA stopped is also the point when Americans seriously saw the potential damage COVID-19 could have on their lives.

Side Note: ESPN Writer Ramona Shelburne did a fantastic job recapping the NBA’s response to Coronavirus earlier this week.

To get to this point it is important to understand how the NBA’s relationship with China influences how they make decisions regarding operation in the United States.

In the preseason, the NBA’s relationship with the PRC strained when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted about China’s actions during the Hong Kong protests. The decisions made by the league at that time were scrutinized, but this post is focusing on how the NBA’s relationship with China impacts the response to COVID-19.

The NBA still has ties to China through offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei. The correspondence the league has with employees in China and the observation of how the Chinese Basketball Association handled the outbreak gave the NBA a sense of urgency and preparedness that lacked in the United States.

The NBA’s commitment to repairing relations with China allowed for the league to analyze the severity of COVID-19 and act accordingly to protect itself so that when this is all over basketball will be in the international spotlight as a milestone of recovery from this disaster.

The probability of restarting the NBA this season looks bleak, but hope can be found by looking at the Chinese Basketball Association. The CBA is planning to restart in mid-April, and former NBA players Jeremy Lin and Lance Stephenson will return after a two-month absence.

Hopefully, recovery efforts across the globe go well so it won’t be too long until we get to see NBA basketball in 2020.

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