The Chinese Basketball Association has been shut down since January 24, and according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, it’s planned restart has been pushed back from the first week of April by about a month.
Still, the CBA is optimistic it will return to play this season, and it has some ideas on how to roll forward with that. That’s why Windhorst says the NBA is paying close attention to how China handles the next weeks.
For both nations’ leagues, the biggest concern is creating an environment safe for everyone involved with the game-day experience. The CBA is considering a few things, knowing that every sports league shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak will be taking notes.
“The CBA hasn’t formally announced a plan, but multiple sources said that what has been drawn up includes clustering teams in one or two cities and playing one another in a round-robin format in empty arenas over several weeks,” Windhorst wrote in his piece published to ESPN on Friday.
“There are 16 games left for each of the 20 teams in the league. The goal has been to play out the remaining schedule in full before moving on to the playoffs, with the hope that fans could eventually be admitted.”
Windhorst says the CBA has discussed playing in an area of China’s warmer southern region that has yet to see the volume of cases other parts of the nation have been crippled by. In the short-term, playing in a centralized location similar to that of an Olympic village. The NBA has workshopped that itself.
“Various ideas have been floated by players and executives,” Windhorst wrote. “One is to consider using a sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, where everything could be held under one roof. Others have suggested playing in the Bahamas, where a ballroom could be converted into a playing court specifically for broadcast. There has even been talk of taking over a college campus in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment.
“Whatever the location, it would be a place where teams could sleep, train, eat and, hopefully, be kept healthy enough to have confidence in resuming play — maybe not to finish out the season but to at least get restarted.”
Now, the NBA indefinitely suspended its season March 11, and some don’t believe we’ll get our professional sports back any time soon. The league certainly won’t be on the same timeline as the CBA to return, but fingers crossed it goes well in China so that we can follow suit and eventually start watching basketball again.