‘Significant’ virus spread could thwart NBA restart, says Silver

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. (AP/File)
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Updated 09 July 2020

‘Significant’ virus spread could thwart NBA restart, says Silver

  • The NBA halted play on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus

LOS ANGELES: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated Tuesday that a “significant spread” of coronavirus could burst the league’s safety “bubble” and cause a second shutdown of the season.

Silver said he fully expects some players who gather in Florida to resume the suspended season will test positive for coronavirus, especially as teams first arrive in Orlando from their home markets.

But he said fresh outbreaks after players go through quarantine procedures could prove more damaging.

“Certainly, if we had any sort of a significant spread at all within our campus, we would be shut down again,” Silver said at Fortune’s virtual Brainstorm Health conference.

“It would be concerning if once (the players) sit through our quarantine period, and then were to test positive, we would know that, in essence, there’s a hole in our bubble.”

The NBA halted play on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

The season is set to resume on July 30 with 22 teams jockeying for a spot in the 16-team playoffs that start Aug. 17.

All games will be held at the ESPN Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where players will stay in a quarantine environment.

Coronavirus testing and contact tracing measures will be in place, which Silver hopes will make the campus safe for players and NBA personnel despite the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida.

“We can analyze the virus itself and try to track whether, if there’s more than one case, if it’s in essence the same virus, the same genetic variation of the virus that has passed from one player to another,” Silver said.

“This should work,” he said.

“But again, this virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols and we hope it works as we designed it.”


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.