Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who expressed optimism last week that the NBA season could resume as soon as mid-May, has backed off discussing any potential timetables for the league playing games again.
“I have no idea,” Cuban said Wednesday on ESPN’s Get Up. “I mean, the only thing I know is that we’re going to put safety first and we’re not going to take any chances. We’re not going to do anything that risks the health of our players, our fans, our staff, the whole organization. So right now, I really don’t have anything new to say.”
In an interview with Dallas television station WFAA published March 21, Cuban cited “people I’ve talked to at the CDC and other places” for his admittedly optimistic projection that enough progress would be made with the coronavirus crisis for the NBA to play games, probably without fans, “hopefully by the middle of May.”
In a setback to the resumption of professional sports, the Chinese government issued an order Tuesday delaying the restart of the Chinese Basketball Association and other group sporting events, according to documents obtained by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The CBA’s attempts to return to action after being shut down since January because of the coronavirus is seen as a test case for American sports leagues, especially the NBA.
“All the experts have got to say it’ll be absolutely safe,” Cuban said on Get Up. “We cannot put anything ahead of the health and safety of our players and staff; that’s it. It’s such a moving target, and nobody really has specifics. I mean, I haven’t had any conversations where anybody’s even discussed an actual date at this point.”
The CBA had been making plans to split its 20 teams and send them to two cities to play games in empty arenas within a month. The NBA could consider similar plans of creating a quarantined community at a neutral site to play games without fans at some point.
“It sounds great to me, and I’ll tell you why: America needs sports,” Cuban said. “We need something to root for; we need something to be excited about. Everybody in North Texas wants a reason to have the Mavs back on, and to get excited and to cheer together — even if there’s not any fans, just being able to watch on television and get excited and yell at the TV and high-five people again. We just need that. And so I’m all for it. Whatever we can make happen, I’m pro-doing it.”