NBA news: Teams to face ‘severe’ penalties for COVID-19 violations

Oct 6, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) gives an interview after defeating the Miami Heat in game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NBA news: The NBA is about to begin its 2020-’21 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic and is bracing for plenty of challenges caused by it. After seeing the NFL and MLB each go through coronavirus outbreaks, the NBA is already sending a message to its teams.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has watched how outbreaks occurred in other leagues. From MLB players breaking protocols, leading to huge issues, to the NFL seeing teams and players violate safety guidelines, the margin for error is thin.

With so much on the line this season for the NBA, the league is letting everyone know violating protocols and putting others’ safety at risk will have consequences.

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Before the 2020-’21 NBA season began, the league sent a 158-page memo regarding health and safety protocols that everyone must follow this year. To make sure every team is complying with the guidelines, there will be unannounced inspections of team facilities throughout the season.

Of course, inspections aren’t enough with 30 teams and hundreds of players. So, the NBA also informed clubs this weekend that any violations of COVID-19 protocols could carry significant penalties.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, players were warned that safety violations could warrant in-season quarantines or reduced paychecks. For teams, they might be subject to fines, suspensions, game forfeitures, or even draft-pick penalties.

The NBA recognizes that players will contract the coronavirus. When teams reported for training camp, 48 players tested positive for COVID-19 and the preseason hasn’t even started yet. But the league wants to avoid the kinds of outbreaks we’ve seen in the NFL and MLB.

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Both the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders were fined and stripped of a 2021 NFL Draft pick for repeated violations of the league’s safety protocols. Both teams drew criticism for disregarding key rules and the league came down hard on them.

The NFL first dropped the hammer on the Tennessee Titans after 24 players and staff tested positive for COVID-19. It might not be long before the Baltimore Ravens are penalized for a staff member’s COVID-19 violations that landed more than two dozen players, including Lamar Jackson, on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

During the MLB season, the St. Louis Cardinals had six players test positive and 18 Miami Marlins’ players contracted the virus. In both instances, MLB discovered players ignored protocols and went out for team gatherings in public spaces.

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NBA news: Strict COVID-19 protocols outlined for 2020-’21 season

For the 2020-’21 NBA season, players are forbidden from going to bars, in-person live entertainment and game venues. They also can’t visit public gyms or indoor gathers with more than 15 people. When teams are on the road, personnel can only eat out at restaurants with outdoor dining or privatized spaces indoors.

The league’s protocols will even impact hotels, with employees required to test negative for COVID-19 before working at a hotel where an NBA team is staying.

It only took Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the NBA to suspend its 2019-’20 season for months. Obviously, it will take far more than that for games to even be postponed this season.