Jurassic Park captured our imaginations in a way few movies have. The idea of having dinosaur and man coexist was tantalizing.
But as the movie showed in a variety of ways, it was a horrendous idea.
A park with man-eating predators is a much scarier proposition than what the NBA is about to attempt with its “bubble” experiment. That doesn’t mean there aren’t parallels.
Throughout the entire movie, John Hammond, played by the late, great Richard Attenborough, thought he had control. Spoiler alert: He did not. Dr. Ian Malcolm, portrayed by the incomparable Jeff Goldblum, had a line about the idea of the park that has stuck with me when thinking about the NBA’s plan:
Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
Commissioner Adam Silver released a 113-page memo on health and safety protocols involved with the league’s return-to-play plan. It’s thorough and transparent. Players will even be offered “smart” rings to track their health and predict if they’re about to show coronavirus symptoms.
The reality is control is an illusion – whether it’s electrical fences meant to contain T-Rexes and Velociraptors or trying to quell the impact of a global pandemic.
I love basketball. I love covering basketball. Getting to watch NBA games from the safety of my home would probably do wonders for my mental health. Getting to write about them would reinvigorate my sense of purpose.
Though they’ve underachieved, there’s never a dull moment with the Sixers. I’d love nothing more than to scrutinize Joel Embiid’s playing shape or analyze the need for Ben Simmons to shoot or have people yell at me on Twitter for defending Brett Brown.
Selfishly, little would make me happier than seeing the NBA return, and I’m sure many players feel the same way. But that’s exactly what that notion is – selfish.
So far, three players have reportedly decided they will not play in Disney World. Davis Bertans of the Wizards will sit out because he is a pending free agent that is likely in line for a big payday and the team he plays for has virtually no chance of getting in tothe playoffs. Even if they go on a miraculous run, a date to get steamrolled by the Bucks awaits. The chance for injury is also much greater in this truncated scenario. That’s no small thing for a guy that’s had multiple ACL injuries.
Trevor Ariza of the Trail Blazers and Avery Bradley of the Lakers have also opted out of playing. Both players did it for family reasons. For Ariza, it revolves around a custody case and not being able to see his 12-year-old son. For Bradley, his 6-year-old son has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses. Meaning even when families are allowed in the “bubble” after the first round of the playoffs – a near certainty for L.A. – Bradley’s son likely would not be approved medically to attend.
These players face a difficult reality. Maybe you view Bertans’ actions as selfish, but he’s been thrust into an unfair position that goes well beyond his contractual obligations. And how could anyone blame Ariza and Bradley for choosing family first?
On top of multiple players already deciding not to play, we’ve seen several players test positive for COVID-19 as they report to their team facilities. There have already been reports of four players on the Kings and two on the Suns testing positive as well as Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic and Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.
While those players may be healthy by the time their teams depart for Disney, this displays a few concerning notions.
Florida has seen a jump in cases, with the state just recently recommending but not enforcing the use of masks to help prevent the virus’ spread.
Preliminary data shared with Orange County officials this morning show yesterday's rate of returned positive test results in the Orlando area at 17.3% — 561 positives on 3,244 cases.
These numbers could be tweaked slightly before being their official release later this morning.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 24, 2020
Brogdon was on the streets of Atlanta during a demonstration, but it appears he hasn’t attended a public protest in over three weeks. Even if Brogdon contracted the virus in that time, he was using his constitutional right to peacefully protest against social injustice and police brutality.
For Jokic, he was in his native Serbia when he tested positive. There have been pictures posted of Jokic not wearing a mask and not practicing social distancing at a tennis tournament. One surfaced of Jokic embracing tennis star Novak Djokovic, who confirmed that both he and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus.
Buddy Hield, one of the Kings that reportedly tested positive, recently participated in a basketball game in a packed gym in Oklahoma.
Though we don’t know how Jokic and Hield contracted the virus, these seem to be high-profile examples of COVID-19 generally not being treated seriously enough.
It’s troubling that after all we’ve seen and what we’ve learned, that we’re not treating this with the proper respect. I’m reminded of another brilliant line from Goldblum during that same monologue:
Gee, the lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here staggers me.
It’s OK to want NBA basketball back.
What’s not OK is to act like this virus no longer exists and ignore the risks inherent for the players and personnel who will be heading to Disney in less than two weeks.
What’s not OK is not remembering that life … uh … finds a way.
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