GQ: Financially, what would have been the consequences if the season had to be canceled?
Adam Silver: I mean, I wouldn’t use the word terrible, only because I tend to look at our business on a longer term horizon. Even though we had the opportunity, of course, to restart the season, the financial implications are still quite traumatic. Players will always suffer a significant pay cut, and most of our teams will lose significant amounts of money as well, not just from their NBA team, but [also from their] the arenas and all those dark nights. Again, I’m trying to take a longer-term perspective and recognizing that this too will pass, whether it takes another six months for a vaccine to be widely distributed or it takes another year to recover. market. During this time, we observe what is going on in the world. For example, we have the fourth game of the final which will take place on Tuesday night in Orlando. So on Wednesday morning in Shanghai, in fact, there’s an arena viewing night where they’re going to have 5,000 fans, and they’re comfortable doing it. They have protocols for doing this.
How did the bubble negotiations go with the players, because they are the ones who will have to bear the weight of the isolation?
When we first started offering to play in a bubble-like environment, I had a lot of one-on-one calls with players who were understandably nervous about safety. At that time, people were still safe in their homes. Part of it was the feeling that gamers were going to be dependent on the behavior of everyone else in the bubble community: gamers, staff, employees – everyone in it. And they realized we weren’t going to be as sure as the least obedient participant.
So I think the players have really done their homework, balancing the economic issues with the health and safety issues. We probably spent hundreds of hours on Zoom calls directly with players, helping them understand what the environment they were playing in would be like, how they were going to live.
Now there was no complete confidence that [the bubble] would work. I should point out what doesn’t enough the bubble that people think it is is that a lot of workers… the vast majority of them don’t live in the bubble. They live in the [surrounding] community. And as we know, the case rate has risen dramatically in Florida, almost the highest in the country. When we started our operations here in early July, it was almost at the peak of cases in Florida which almost kept us from moving forward, without the confidence our experts had in the system we had put in place. place and long periods of quarantine. .
Some people think the tests are what stopped the spread. But since we had no cases, it was essentially the same practices that led to the 1918 flu that prevented the spread: physical removal, quarantine, mask wear, hand washing. There’s nothing more high-tech than this at the end of the day, and that’s apparently what has proven to be effective here.
Entering the bubble, how concerned were you with the mental health of the players, given the artificial habitat they were going to be in for months?
I was very anxious. And in fact, when you’re here in the bubble, there’s an app. And you do a daily recording and answer questions about COVID symptoms. And the only other question, aside from the symptoms of COVID, is, would you like to speak to a mental health professional? So we asked this question to players every day, and obviously when they [want to speak with someone], It’s confidential. All I know is that the overall utilization rate of psychologists, on and off campus, has been quite high.