Cuban will bring Mav­er­icks back un­der ‘White House’ test­ing rules

NBA play­ers de­serve same level of care as U.S. pres­i­dent, Dal­las owner says

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - DES BIELER

Mark Cuban thinks the NBA can and should re­sume its 2019-20 sea­son, but he won’t so much as re­open the prac­tice fa­cil­ity for his Dal­las Mav­er­icks un­til he feels it’s safe to do so.

And when would that be? When Cuban can “use the White House pro­to­col.”

The Mavs’ owner was re­fer­ring to the fact that White House staffers who fre­quently in­ter­act with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump are be­ing tested daily for the novel coro­n­avirus.

“The way the White House pro­tects the pres­i­dent and vice-pres­i­dent is the way that I want to pro­tect our play­ers and em­ploy­ees,” Cuban told the Ath­letic on Tues­day.

“We’ll just try to just copy what they do as a means of know­ing when the time is right,” he added. “... They have ac­cess to the best sci­ence, the best in­for­ma­tion, and so it just makes sense to me that we just copy them.”

Cuban’s com­ments echoed re­marks he made on CNBC the day be­fore, when he said of busi­nesses re­open­ing amid the pan­demic, “Ef­fec­tively, we’re ask­ing our­selves who can we trust with our lives, and we’re not get­ting any type of re­sponse back. So if we’re not get­ting a solid re­sponse, if we’re not hear­ing a solid plan, if we’re not get­ting spe­cific guide­lines for health care, then the best we can do is em­u­late what has to be the high­est level of care avail­able, which is the White House.”

Last month, the bil­lion­aire was among a group of lead­ers se­lected by Trump to serve on a panel to ad­vise the White House about re­open­ing an econ­omy hit hard by coro­n­avirus, de­spite the fact that he’s been openly crit­i­cal of the pres­i­dent and the re­sponse to the pan­demic.

“I’m ready to help my coun­try in any way I can,” he told Dal­las­bas­ket­ball.com when ap­pointed.

Fac­ing high un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures and, in some cases, civil un­rest, many states are tak­ing steps to re­open economies largely shut­tered in March to help slow the spread of the coro­n­avirus. How­ever, there may be dan­ger in that ap­proach of wors­en­ing the pan­demic, as the U.S. still lags be­hind a num­ber of coun­tries in per capita test­ing and con­tin­ues to have by far the most con­firmed cases in the world.

De­spite the lift­ing in late April of stay-at-home or­der by Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott, Cuban as­serted ear­lier this month that it was “just not worth it” to him to bring his team back.

“I just don’t think the risk is worth the re­ward,” he said at the time.

On Mon­day, Cuban told CNBC, “We have to get to that point, where the White House stan­dard be­comes the na­tional stan­dard, in or­der for con­sumers to feel safe go­ing out, in or­der for em­ploy­ers to feel com­pletely safe bring­ing peo­ple back to work.” He added, “And I think we can get there, I just don’t know when.”

Asked by the Ath­letic whether he was “optimistic” that there will be suf­fi­cient test­ing avail­able in one to two months, he replied, “Yes, ab­so­lutely.”

A con­fer­ence call on Tues­day in­volv­ing NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver and team own­ers and ex­ec­u­tives left par­tic­i­pants optimistic that the sea­son will re­sume, ac­cord­ing to ESPN. A ma­jor topic on the call was the NBA’S ef­forts to min­i­mize health risks, but Sil­ver re­port­edly said that if a very small num­ber of pos­i­tive tests would “shut us down, we prob­a­bly shouldn’t go down this path.”

In a con­fer­ence call on Mon­day in­volv­ing some of the big­gest stars in the NBA, in­clud­ing Le­bron James, Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo, Kevin Du­rant, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry, play­ers re­port­edly agreed they wanted to re­sume the sea­son if proper safety pro­to­cols were in place. Ya­hoo Sports cited sources in also re­port­ing the ma­jor­ity of play­ers on teams that were ef­fec­tively elim­i­nated from post-sea­son con­tention when the NBA sus­pended play in March would pre­fer that only play­off teams re­turn to ac­tion.

Cuban said Tues­day on ESPN that “the big­gest chal­lenge” for the NBA, if and when it re­sumes play, will be the abil­ity of team­mates to mon­i­tor each other to make sure no one en­gages in reck­less be­hav­iour. He said his league has an ad­van­tage in that re­gard over base­ball and foot­ball, which fea­ture much big­ger ros­ters.

“How play­ers re­late to each other and sup­port each other is go­ing to be crit­i­cal to mak­ing it work,” Cuban said.

To those who feel the league should “scrap the sea­son,” as Shaquille O’neal declared re­cently, the Mav­er­icks owner had an op­pos­ing point of view.

“Guys want to play, there’s still a sea­son to be fin­ished out,” Cuban said. “I still think we can play a few games, then go into the play­offs and crown a cham­pion. Let’s go, let’s play. The coun­try needs it, too, man. We need some­thing to cheer for, we need some­thing to get ex­cited about.”

GETTY IMAGES FILES

Dal­las Mav­er­icks owner Mark Cuban says play­ers will have to mon­i­tor each other to make sure no one en­gages in reck­less be­hav­iour if the NBA re­sumes play.

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