The NBA officially announced its “opening night” schedule on Friday, providing fans with what should be a pair of entertaining matchups right off the bat.
The league will resume play after what will be a nearly-four month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic on July 30 at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida.
The NBA will feature two games on July 30, both of which will be broadcasted nationally on TNT, before a big slate of games the following day.
The schedule for the first two days (All times ET):
From there, the NBA will play at least five games each day with tip-offs taking place between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. across three different courts until the seeding games conclude on August 14. Each team will get eight regular season games.
The NBA restart full schedule: pic.twitter.com/lvBDUFSYOl— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 26, 2020
The NBA and the players’ association officially finalized the “comprehensive plan” for the season restart on Friday, paving the way for the restart to move forward. The 113-page health and safety protocol put in place in an effort to protect players, coaches and others involved from the coronavirus was approved, too.
“We have worked together with the players’ association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”
There were more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday night, according to The New York Times, and nearly 125,000 deaths attributed to it. The country recorded new single-day records for new cases on both Wednesday and Thursday, as did several states — including Florida.
Florida had almost 123,000 confirmed cases as of Friday night, and recorded a record 5,511 new cases on Thursday alone. Orange County, where Disney World is located, had more than 7,800 cases, too.
Several of the league’s players have decided to opt-out of the restart plan, something they can do without penalty, for various reasons — including concerns related to the coronavirus. Others, including Sacramento Kings stars Jabari Parker, Buddy Hield and Alex Len, announced that they have tested positive for the coronavirus themselves.
The massive spike in cases, both in Florida and across the country, is reportedly a growing concern for Silver and the league. While he admitted it will be difficult and the league can’t outrun the virus, Silver believes that returning to play is the best thing for the country.
“We’re coming back because sports matter in our society,” Silver said Friday. “They bring people together when they need it most.”
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