What's happening to the NBA during the coronavirus epidemic?

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As Covid-19 spreads rapidly across North America and Europe, the NBA is now tasked with putting together an action plan to minimise its part in spreading the disease and there is no doubt its operations will be affected.

Early Wednesday morning, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the NBA's Board of Governors will take part in a conference call to discuss game format options heading into the anticipated peak of the virus.

One suggestion is to reschedule all games to neutral cities that have yet to be affected or have certain teams play the majority of their games at another team's arena, again in a neutral city.

However, Fred Katz, Washington Wizards beat writer for The Athletic, took to Twitter to discredit the suggestion: "Encouraging a bunch of people who live where coronavirus is prevalent to travel to places where it’s not prevalent sounds like a great way to spread it to places where it’s not prevalent."

Exacerbating the spread of coronavirus should be the top priority for the league right now but taking the risk to move potentially infected athletes and staff to currently 'safe' cities is more than a problematic solution.

There are also other options on the table from playing games without fans to suspending the season indefinitely. Lakers star LeBron James recently faced a backlash from fans for refusing to play games without supporters but backtracked on the claims after he realised the seriousness of the threat.

He said: "Well, it's funny, because when I was asked the question - would you play without no fans? - I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus.

"Obviously, I would be very disappointed, not having the fans, because that's who I play for. I play for my family. I play for my fans. They're saying no one could come to the game if they decide to go that point.

"So, I'd be disappointed in that. But, at the same time, you have got to listen to the people keeping track on what's going on."

Yesterday brought about noticeable changes for the NBA landscape in the wake of COVID-19 with Jim Boylen, Chicago Bulls head coach, opting to switch his signature fist-bump to a "half-elbow". Boylen answered question after question on the virus at a press conference which had also been moved from just outside the lockerroom to halfway around the arena amidst new NBA media restrictions.

Players are leaving arenas after greeting fans with a closed fist-bump as opposed to their usual open-handed greeting, but the main concern has to be the ease with which the fans still operate, using the same water fountains and concessions stands as always.

Although the immediate threat might be very minimal for players and younger healthy fans, the main concern is protecting the elderly supporters and those with pre-existing health conditions as these are the most at risk. Just based on numbers alone, the 1,000 confirmed cases in the US may not signal a full-blown outbreak, but expectations that this will rise significantly are on everyone's mind.

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