Since the Raptors are based in Canada, they will likely avoid most of the worst decision-making being made right now by various levels of American government. That includes whatever is going on in states like Georgia, where it appears they’re hellbent on trying to re-open the state despite the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic. People need their haircuts, I guess.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that means some teams may be able to open their practice facilities sooner rather than later — like, say, the Atlanta Hawks of the great state of Georgia. It’s a situation that creates all sorts of concerns, not least of which is the ongoing health and safety of players, team personnel, and anyone else who may encounter all these folks while moving around. There’s also the suddenly imbalanced playing field this creates — an admittedly much smaller concern — that could trigger more rash actions from players or teams. As mentioned in the report, one GM has already noted the pressure to re-open their facilities, saying: “If our players can travel and play at a 24-Hour Fitness in Atlanta, they should be able to have access to our facilities.” Does this mean every NBA player should now seek out gyms in “re-opened” states to get some shots up? As you can imagine, that kind of travel is a problem.
It should be said here, re-opening practice facilities does not mean a return to practice for NBA players. They will still have to undertake social distancing, which severly limits what anyone can actually do while inside a practice facility or gym. As has been noted elsewhere, players will likely only be able to do things like get shots up, run through solo drills, lift weights, and other isolated activities. Actual playing of basketball would still be off-limits. Yet to maintain even a glimmer of hope we’ll eventually return to the 2019-20 NBA season, it makes sense that the league and its teams are considering their options in this regard.
For his part, Toronto’s illustrious mayor John Tory is taking the middle road on this issue (big surprise), offering up some thoughts on the matter without any clear evidence of his taking one direction or another. As reported by CP24, Tory had this to say on the situation:
“We are seeing if we can work something out and we will try our best to do that obviously but there is many precautions that need to be taken into account and many details that have to be sorted out. We want to make sure that on the one hand and most importantly we keep everybody safe, including the players, coaches, staff, and everybody else, but on the other hand that our team doesn’t fall into a situation where they are at a disadvantage.”
That’s very much the situation as it stands right now and someone, somewhere, is going to have to decide how best to proceed. Either the NBA needs to figure out a way to let each and every team open and manage their practice facilities with the appropriate safety protocols in place; or they need step in and overrule the various local governments trying their best to do the wrong thing in a dangerous situation. Yes, eliminating competitive advantages created by outside sources is of importance to the NBA — but so is making sure everyone in their employ stays healthy too.