This season is Adam Silver’s biggest mistake as commissioner

Washington Wizards. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards have not played in over a week. And they aren’t the only team missing games. This mess is on Adam Silver.

On Monday afternoon, the Washington Wizards announced that their upcoming game vs. the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night had been postponed. This is now the fifth-straight Wizards game postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the team. At least 15 NBA games have now been postponed in a season that started less than a month ago. So far, the season has been a disaster and a stain on an otherwise spotless résumé for NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

When the league resumed the 2019-20 season in the Orlando bubble, finishing their final games in isolation, Adam Silver was lauded for how the NBA pulled off over three months of games without any COVID-19 cancelations.

The bubble was awesome! It was the safest-possible way of playing during this awful pandemic. Players were able to advocate for social justice on their uniforms and “Black Lives Matter” was painted on the court. The NBA bubble life Twitter account was showing players having fun at the resort in their downtime. The wall of virtual fans made for an arena-type feel amidst the emptiness. The bubble seemed like a utopian place during a terrible time. I wished I was there for sure.

However, the bubble wasn’t as loved by the players. It was a long time away from their families. It was also extremely expensive for the league ($150 million per Reuters). Another bubble for the entire 2020-21 season would have been impossible.

For those reasons, the NBA players and owners decided it would be best to play the season outside of a bubble in home arenas. However, the coronavirus is spiking again throughout the country and it has wreaked havoc in the NBA as well.

Without a bubble, the NBA is struggling. Adam Silver needs to step in.

What Adam Silver has allowed to happen has been foolish. He is supposed to be the smartest commissioner in sports, but he has allowed the almighty dollar to get in the way of his logic. He has allowed games to go on even when players have been in close contact to other players who tested positive for COVID-19. There is an incubation window of about five days with this virus. In the day — or even days — after a game, a player could very well test negative despite contracting the virus from a playing on the opposing team. This creates dangerous situations for the players

For example, the Washington Wizards were allowed to play the Miami Heat on Jan. 9, one day after playing the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum (Jan. 8). Tatum, after facing the Wizards, tested positive for COVID-19.

Multiple players on the Wizards guarded Tatum and touched the same ball that he did. Everyone on the Wizards should have quarantined for at least five days. EVERYONE. Instead, just Bradley Beal, who had a postgame conversation with Tatum the night before, was listed as Out vs the Heat.

Consequently, the Heat’s game against Boston on Jan. 10, the day after they played the Wizards, was postponed due to contact tracing in the Miami organization. As of Jan. 12, the Heat were playing games with a league-minimum eight players. That’s just barely better than the Wizards, who have not played since Jan. 11.

Basketball is played indoors and with small teams. If one player tests positive, the whole team is probably a close contact. If there is one positive within a team, that team should be put on pause. The league’s half-hearted approach will only lead to more postponements. If games are foolishly played right after a team has a positive test, the virus will spread from one team to the next, and then around the league.

Right now, Silver needs to step in and stop play for a couple of weeks. Let things reset then resume with stricter, more thorough protocols. Make sure teams with positive tests do not play the next day. The NBA does not need to play 72 games. They can play 48-60 games and still crown a true champion.

However, it appears as though Silver, the “players’ commissioner,” does not care about the health of his players. He seems to just want the league to make money from all these games being played, even when they should not be given the green light.

The bubble is not the right move for now. Players deserve to see their families and the costs of going back to Orlando would be through the roof for a season that is supposed to last until mid-July. Going back for the playoffs makes sense but right now, there is no need.

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The NBA just needs to be smarter with how they are handling this pandemic because I think the vast majority of fans would rather see fewer games with teams at full strength than more games consisting of eight benchwarmers being blown out by a full-strength playoff team.

Silver, the commissioner who ousted Donald Sterling and supported the social justice movement, needs to do the right thing this season or his legacy will be severely tarnished.