With the growing threat of coronavirus, the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors will play in an empty arena on Thursday night.
This just got serious.
The growing threat of coronavirus is enveloping the globe and the NBA isn’t immune to its reach. On Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors will play in front of an empty arena according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
The Warriors confirmed Stein’s reporting in a statement.
“Due to the escalating concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and in consultation with the City and County of San Francisco, the Golden State Warriors announced today that tomorrow night’s game vs. the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center will be played without fans,” the Warriors said.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski also adds that the Warriors are considering continuing to play their home games without any fans. The San Francisco Health Office has ordered that people don’t gather in groups of 1,000 or more.
Although this is a monumental move for the NBA, it feels like it’s just the beginning. The league was already toying with the idea of moving games to cities without any coronavirus outbreak according to Wojnarowski.
The NBA has already taken league-wide steps to protect its players by limiting media access. Locker rooms are closed off to everyone except players and essential personnel. Pregame and postgame interviews are being conducted in more of a press conference style rather than the relatively informal locker room scrums that usually take place.
As a credentialed member of the media, this is disappointing, but it’s completely understandable. However, if the league is going to these lengths to protect the players from a handful of people, it’s only a matter of time before they start shutting out the thousands of fans who come pouring into NBA arenas on a nightly basis.
What happens next is still unknown, but this feels like it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
What does this mean for the Nets?
Go ahead and insert a joke about the Nets playing in front of an empty arena in Brooklyn. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to more serious matters.
As of Wednesday, New York had more than 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus per the New York Times. Many of those cases are in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City.
With New York being one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19, expect professional sports teams in the area to start following Golden State’s lead. No owners want to lose out on the revenue that comes in from packing a building for a basketball game, but that outcome feels likely at this point.
Brooklyn is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference and in line to play the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs. How would international travel affect that series? Is the NBA willing to play playoff games in front of empty arenas? Would the NBA push the playoffs back until coronavirus is under control?
These are all phenomenal questions with less-than-phenomenal answers.