The NBA is not taking the threat of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) lightly. In a memo to teams on Monday, the league stated that players should avoid signing autographs and high-fiving fans. Instead, the memo suggested players opt fist bump fans, if anything.
With a vaccine for COVID-19 projected to take at least another year, these precautions could drastically change the fan experience in the NBA, and all sports, for the foreseeable future. Although there have been less than 200 cases in the US and Canada thus far, the NBA isn’t taking any chances.
The Celtics brought in a doctor to talk to their players about the virus. “It’s getting serious”, Kemba Walker said. “Everyone just needs to be a little more cautious about that virus.”
Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum made it clear he plans to be among those who avoids interactions with fans during this time:
Marcus Smart, on the other hand, was seen amongst the crowd in a photograph the Celtics posted on Twitter last night. Smart claims to have cut back on high-fives and autographs even before the NBA’s memo, but this image shows Smart isn’t freezing out fans entirely.
If the pandemic worsens, expect leagues to implement mandatory precautions sometime in the near future. If you do go to an NBA game, consider not asking for a high-five or an autograph, even if you’re not sick. It makes it easier on the players who just want to stay healthy, but don’t want the fans to feel slighted. “The fans, hopefully, they’ll understand.” Marcus Smart said. “It’s not malicious. It’s nothing towards them. It’s just to keep everybody safe.”
Photo: (Charles Krupa – AP Photo)