As Major League Baseball continues to see coronavirus cases that force the postponement of games and the National Football League prepares to potentially deal with the same issue, professional basketball has avoided any disruptions since returning during the pandemic. Both the NBA and WNBA have gone on without a hitch, on their way to completing what many viewed as an improbable mission just a few months ago.

The WNBA started its season on July 25 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The NBA restarted its season on July 30 at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, 141 days after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus and triggered the shut down of all sports in the United States. 

All players, coaches and staff for each league are confined to their respective campuses. They are tested for the coronavirus every day. Various social distancing measures and safety protocols are in place. Anyone who leaves is forced to quarantine upon their return for anywhere from four to 10 days. 

The result has been no positive tests for the NBA or WNBA since games began.

 

 

While the WNBA regular season ends on Sept. 12, the NBA has cleared one hurdle, making it to the playoffs without any issues. Despite so much skepticism surrounding the league’s plan earlier this summer, the NBA is one step closer to crowning a champion as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the country. 

“The NBA and WNBA really have done their research,” Harpreet Singh Rai, CEO of Oura Health, told International Business Times.

In addition to daily testing, temperature checks and surveys about potential symptoms, players have been provided with an Oura Ring. The rings have been on the market for four years, helping users to learn about and improve the quality of their sleep, though the devices can also potentially help alert individuals to an oncoming illness. 

Oura Health has partnered with both the NBA and WNBA, creating an aggregate risk score that uses factors such as meaningful changes in a user’s baseline body temperature, respiratory rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. The leagues and their players’ associations will know if any player who is wearing the ring wakes up with a lower than usual risk score. 

With coronavirus test results sometimes taking up to 24 hours to be processed, the rings provide another layer of protection against a potential outbreak in the bubble. 

“All that’s helping them do is go talk to that player or staff member. Make sure they fill out their symptom cards. Make sure we take their temperature and see when their last COVID test was. Maybe we can get them a second test and get them to the front of the line for the tests,” Rai told IBT.

“Trying to do 1,000 (tests) at once or 500 at once in the bubble, that takes time. What if I could tell you, ‘Do these 10 tests first. These are the highest risk. Let’s process these first.’ That just helps a ton.”

The NBA had been testing about 1,400 people when the regular season resumed last month, according to ESPN. That number was cut by at least 200 when six teams were eliminated and the playoffs began.

The next challenge comes after the first round when family members will be permitted to enter the NBA’s bubble. Players will be limited to no more than four guests, though players with three or four children on campus can also host up to two adults. 

Guests will be forced to quarantine for a short time and are expected to adhere to safety protocols as the league marches forward with the season.

“We cannot let modest short-term success lead to complacency,” NBA director of sports medicine Dr. John DiFiori wrote in an email, via ESPN. “This is an extremely challenging situation, and we cannot let our guard down.”

The 2020 NBA Finals are scheduled to end no later than Oct. 13.

Kawhi Leonard Clippers Mavericks Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers looks for help as he is defended by Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks and Maxi Kleber (42) during the second half of Game Three of the first round of the playoffs at the AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 21, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo: Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images