The NBA has been proactive in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, and it wants it to stay that way.
Eight NBA teams have been tested for COVID-19 since March 11, according to commissioner Adam Silver, with seven players having tested positive as of Wednesday afternoon. Silver said most players are asymptomatic, though some are experiencing “relatively mild” symptoms at most.
Though proud of how the league set an example for other professional sports leagues in the United States, Silver wants to make sure neither the NBA nor its players lead anyone astray when it comes to the dangers that accompany the virus.
Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert was particularly reckless, going as far as toughing every single microphone in front of him at a press conference two days before testing positive for the virus last Wednesday. After testing positive himself, teammate Donovan Mitchell provided a positive update on his symptoms during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
But Silver wants the NBA to send the proper message to young people, and doesn’t think either narrative helps.
“Because it wasn’t affecting them so much personally, they might not have understood sort of the magnitude of the crisis in our country,” Silver told Rachel Nichols on “SportsCenter” on Wednesday. “… And I know it cuts both ways when Donovan Mitchell, people see him on social media, or he’s done public service announcements for us reminding people of the protocol (for coronavirus), (but) when he says, ‘Hey, I’m good, I’m healthy,’ we have to be careful that other young people don’t see that and say, ‘Hey, he tested positive, it’s no big deal.’
“What I’ve said directly to some of our players (is) if you hug grandma, frankly, you could be putting her in jeopardy. I mean this is, again, we are learning more and more about COVID-19 all the time. But it’s particularly lethal for older people and people with underlying conditions, so I think that, in the midst of this crisis, I think there is a particular role that the NBA in terms of getting the message out to young people.”
You can watch this portion of the interview here: