Update (4:43 p.m. ET): NBPA reportedly denies conducting poll
Shortly after a report that the National Basketball Players Association was polling players on whether or not they want to play this season, the union reportedly denied conducting such a poll.
“The NBPA is not engaging in and has not authorized any formal poll of its players,” reads a statement from the union, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Charania reports that the NBA and NBPA have a call scheduled to discuss “return-to-play straegies.”
Sources: The NBA and NBPA are forming a working group and have a call Tuesday to discuss return-to-play strategies; will include NBPA president Chris Paul and players Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, Dwight Powell.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 12, 2020
Whether the NBA finishes its season is one of the biggest questions in sports regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until Tuesday, the conversation around the league’s return has largely ignored the most important constituency in the equation — the players. Do they actually want to return to the court?
Now they’re being asked.
ESPN report: Players being asked if they want to play'
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that the National Basketball Player’s Association is polling players if they want to play this season. Players started receiving text messages from their union representatives on Tuesday asking “Do you want to try and play again this season? Yes or no?”
The messaging appears to be somewhat inconsistent as Wojnarowski reports that different player reps are phrasing the question differently. But the gist is the same. Do players want to play in the midst of a pandemic?
Most of the larger discussion so far has revolved around the economic considerations for the league and its broadcast partners alongside fan desires.
Players weigh in on social media
Players are reportedly being told that their answers will remain confidential, meaning we may never see the results of the poll.
Safety obviously 1st! No where will be as safe as the NBA compound site they determine but, I Don’t think players know the effects of NOT playing does too next year. This is bigger then My team isnt in the playoffs so who cares! No playoffs, no tv money, NEW CBA next year! https://t.co/jFb1dH89E4— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) May 12, 2020
The NBA was the first major American sport to suspend its season on March 12 and continues to grapple with whether and how to return to the court two months later as the coronavirus maintains its foothold in the United States and around the world.
Player and staff safety is a real consideration even as the NBA and other leagues have largely accepted that any imminent return to the field of play won’t include fans.
Warnings persist against reopening too soon
The nation’s leading medical voice in the coronavirus crisis Dr. Anthony Fauci testified to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday that “consequences could be really serious” if states and municipalities open too soon.
Sports have been a significant part of the conversation in the effort to reopen, with President Donald Trump applauding the UFC for its decision to hold a pay-per-view event in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday in his ongoing push to get the economy moving in an election year.
As of Tuesday, the United States accounted for 1.3 million of the 4.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. The domestic death toll has exceeded 81,000, with the Centers for Disease Control predicting last week that the death rate would increase to 3,000 daily in the United States by the end of May as states reopen their economies to varying degrees.
With the pandemic still maintaining its grip, it’s unlikely that all the league’s players and staffers who would be increasing risk to themselves and their families would be willing to do so.
Now the NBPA is going to have answers.
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