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NBA to follow German soccer league model in return to play plan?

Oct 23, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the press during the 2023 NB All-Star announcement at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with players on Friday to discuss a potential return to the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the league is still ways away from a potential return, plans are being set into motion. One possibility is that the 2019-20 season will return from suspension in “bubbles” at both Walt Disney World in Florida and the Las Vegas Strip.

Silver’s call with players were more informational than anything. Players have concerns over returning to the court while the United States is still the epicenter of the pandemic and with widespread testing still unavailable to the masses.

The United States conducted just six million tests from January through the end of April. That’s a very small percentage of the population. As it relates to the NBA, tens of thousands of tests will need to be conducted if the Association is able to resume its season.

The NBA is now apparently looking to model its return-to-play plan after Germany’s Bundesliga soccer league, according to Raptors general manager Bobby Webster.

“Along with the NBA, we are all following that and I think if they are a couple of weeks in front of us, it will be hopefully useful and directional for us to look at,” Webster told reporters recently, via Sportsnet. “Everyone is looking at that. Definitely the German league is starting up, or at least the training part, and looking at leagues that are currently playing without fans (Korea) just operationally, what does it look like. It’s not exactly the same situation as us, but I think we are learning and we will learn from both situations.”

The German league will need an estimated 20,000 tests spread out to 36 teams once it returns to action here soon. Excess tests will be given to front-line workers and others in need.

As for the NBA, the model could be something like this. For every 1,000 tests the league conducts, it sponsors 20,000 tests in communities where there is a need. This would be a win-win for both the Association and the United States.

President Donald Trump indicated recently that the hope is that the United States would be able to conduct two millions tests per week by the end of May. This would only be the starting-off point when it comes to a potential return of lives sports in North America.

There’s some troubling aspects to these plans. Primarily, Germany has bent the COVID-19 curve in a big way. As of late Saturday afternoon (pacific time), the European nation had 171,00-plus confirmed cases with north of 7,500 deaths among a population of 83 million.

As for the United States, the same model shows 1.33 million-plus cases with a whopping 79,300-plus deaths among a population of 328 million.

At the very least, it looks like the NBA’s return-to-action plan will double as a way to help communities throughout the United States.