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Health vs. Benjamins

By Henry Liao July 05,2020
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Health vs. Benjamins

By Henry Liao July 05,2020 - 12:28 PM
ON the resumption of NBA play at this time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, here’s my take.
The selfishness in me says let’s go ahead so we can have fun watching you guys kick each other’s butts in the comforts of our home and put our boredom to a stop. But the wisdom in me says let’s stop the madness; this virus is so lethal and not worth the risk of our health over money matters.
Are you all excited over the resumption of NBA action in the Walt Disney World bubble near Orlando, Florida? And this is notwithstanding the monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections in America — around 50,000 cases the other day and a single-day record of more than 55,500 cases over the last 24 hours — and the state of Florida being besieged by the pandemic with a record-breaking number of more than 10,000 cases last July 2 — to up the total to more than 178,500 following the lifting of social-distancing measures by the state governor?
Then again, did you not hink that not one of the 88 regular-season games by the 22 teams plus the four-tier NBA playoffs may be shown on local television?
Unless somebody wants to waste precious money in these turbulent times, just to satisfy the hunger of local NBA fans or sports followers in general, then we are better off to just follow the results on the Internet.
Before the league shutdown last March 11 following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 results — the NBA’s so-called Patient Zero — I was already watching “live” a number of LA Lakers games on Facebook free-of-charge.
Maybe the gentle soul that shared the viewing will be back again by July 30 (July 31 Manila time) when 22 teams will play eight “seeding” games each before the play-in tournament (if necessary, between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed granting that the No. 9 seed is within four games of the No. 8 seed) and the actual 16-team postseason, where each of the rounds is a best-of-seven affair.
Otherwise, let’s just salivate and wait for the results on NBA.com or elsewhere.
Maybe with a little bit of luck …..
Is CNN Philippines interested in airing the return-to-play games?
Early during the 2019-20 season, the NBA even paid the local cable network something like P500,000 a game for it to just air the games on local soil in the absence of a contract between the NBA and a local entity.
Not likely this time, though, as the NBA is bleeding heavily as a result of Houston Rockets GM Darryl Morey’s tweet of support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong last October that angered the Chinese government and resulted in the NBA’s loss of S1 billion of revenues in product sponsorships and TV contracts, and, of course, the global coronavirus pandemic that has affected 10.9 million across the globe — with 500,000-plus deaths — and the U.S. taking the lead with over 2.8 million cases and around 130,000 fatalities.
Moreover, sans fans in attendance during the Orlando games, the NBA is also losing around 40 percent of its basketball-related income (BRI) from its on-site games.
It cost the NBA more than $150 million to come up with the games in Orlando and it is likely to recoup some of them only through TV revenues and the amount might not even be enough.
And then again, we still have to contend with the virus itself. She (and the data) will have the final say on whether to push through with the NBA restart or not.
So far, 7.1 percent (25) of the 351 NBA players headed to Orlando have tested positive for COVID-19 when the tests began last June 23 and 10 of 884 team staff members also have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Overnight, a 26th player — the second from the Miami Heat — also tested positive so much so that the Heat became the third NBA team to shut down their practice facility after the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
It was first reported that players and team essentials were to have COVID-19 testing and antibodies testing every two days. But now, it is being done daily.
Expect the number of COVID-19 positives among the players to grow further before the 22 NBA teams leave for Orlando between July 7 and July 9 from their home markets.
But hopeful NBA commissioner Adam Silver has declared that the games will take place as scheduled unless there is a substantial number of infections to merit the cancellation of its return-to-play plans.
This is a real tough issue: Health vs. Benjamins (US dollars).
Where do you stand?
* * *
A reprimand from the PBA may not be enough.
This one is really challenging the gods. It’s not just all about basketball playing but a health concern that potentially could infect other people, hopefully not anyone of your relatives when you get back to the comforts of your home.
Maybe even the IATF or NBI will be going after you for violating social distancing rules in playing 5-on-5 basketball game in a privately owned gym during this time of the pandemic.
For high-profile players like professionals who are role models to the youth, you should know better than foolishly flaunt your naughty ways to circumvent the rules and even immortalize it with a video clip is really something.
One Big Fight ahead!
* * *
What a coincidence.
I was with Philippine Daily Inquirer 1986-2002. 16 years.
I was with Bandera 2004-2020. 16 years.
This may be my last column for Bandera and I thank all of you for the ride.
Old sportswriters never die, they just live in our memories forever.

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