With the chances increase that the 2019-20 NBA season will be canceled, a number of options have been thrown out there in an attempt to save the campaign.
Playing in empty arenas and postponing action until July have been serious considerations thus far but one recent suggestion, in particular, was gaining a lot of traction in league circles: the idea to create a "bubble" in Las Vegas, in which the players would play out their games in quarantine, locked down in the city until either the pandemic dissipated or the season was completed.
It seems like a good idea on the surface, but one epidemiologist with expertise in this area explained why it would never work:
“It sounds like potentially a bad idea,” said Dr. Buckee in a Zoom interview. “I don’t think it’s realistic to completely isolate and quarantine the players. For a start, there are people who will need to clean their rooms, feed them, wash their clothes, janitorial staff and so forth. And those people will not be protected and they will be interacting with their communities. It is very difficult to truly self-isolate. Purposefully putting people at risk seems foolish.”
The same thing was said by Dr. Charles Branas, a professor and department chair of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
I’m not sure the bubble scenario is wise,” said Dr. Charles Branas. “The chances of pulling that off for the entire NBA seems highly unlikely. All you need is one unintended case of COVID-19 and the whole thing goes bad, like a cruise ship.”
All it would take is one bad case for literally everyone to be exposed. And in the case of this quarantine scenario, it would spread pretty rapidly between the players.
All-in-all, it's not a terrible idea by Silver and league executives, but it just has too many holes. In a time with so much uncertainty, it's understandable that the NBA would want to explore all options but it may not be viable to consider playing games right now or any time in the near future.
We will continue to monitor the situation as we wait for an official word from the league on the status of the season.