During their 12 or so minutes on ESPN’s NBA Today, Malika Andrews asked Adam Silver just about all the right questions.
Andrews (who revealed she was appearing remotely after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive) deserves plaudits for that, hitting on just about all the relevant points that NBA media, observers, fans, and more have wondered in recent weeks. That includes the leadoff topic, when Andrews asked if there were any plans to pause the season.
Going further, Silver offered plenty of data about how the omicron variant is the dominant strain they’ve found, and the rates at which it’s had an effect on the unvaccinated, vaccinated, and vaccinated/boosted buckets.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on ESPN:
– No plans to pause the season
– “Very small number” of breakthrough cases among players/coaches who also have booster shot (like Rick Carlisle)
– ~97% of players vaccinated, 65% boosted
– ~90% of positive cases are Omicron variant
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 21, 2021
Silver also noted the league is considering shortening the mandatory time players must spend in the league’s health and safety protocol as CDC and other guidelines change with regards to the timeline when vaccinated people and players stop shedding the virus.
Andrews also pressed Silver on the competitive integrity of the league right now, given the dozens and dozens of players from all across the league who have had to miss time. Silver admitted that it wasn’t ideal, though he pointed to the league’s 82-game season as a large enough sample to help outweigh the kind of random variance in play at the moment.
This is all less than ideal, to say the least, but the NBA is pretty clearly trying to manage this situation without pausing the season. If anything, competitive integrity would be the biggest reason; as Silver notes, risk management and learning to live with the virus have sort of just become the norm at this point. There could obviously be a time where things get bad enough in society that it would require a pause, but at that point it would probably be as part of another full-scale lockdown, which at this point feels unlikely for a variety of reasons.
Credit to Malika Andrews, too; this interview covered a ton of ground, with important questions that Silver probably would have preferred not having to answer. Considering she did that while her own Covid status is up in the air, that’s damn impressive.