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NBA commissioner Adam Silver concerned about positive tests at 'bubble'

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver walks away from the

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver walks away from the podium after speaking at a news conference before an NBA preseason basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Saitama, near Tokyo.  Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong

As NBA teams began to arrive Tuesday in Orlando, the start of a staggered three-day process, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated his uncertainty about how the league will make it to the finish line.

Silver, speaking at Fortune’s virtual Brainstorm Health conference Tuesday, said that the spread of the virus inside the bubble-like environment the league has created remains a concern.

"We won't be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players test positive," Silver said. "What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we were to have any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue ... We would know that there's, in essence, a hole in our bubble or that our quarantine or our campus is not working in some way,"

The NBA has already seen a substantial number of players test positive for COVID-19. Twenty-five of 340 players tested were diagnosed as positive and even Tuesday there were more cases coming out - the Nets losing another player, Taurean Prince.

Silver has maintained that the plan brought together by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association would be fluid, adapting to the latest information about the virus. The league shut down play on March 11 after one player, Utah’s Rudy Gobert, tested positive. Even as the league tries to isolate and quarantine players, the virus has continued to find its way to them, just like the rest of the nation - including Orlando, where the teams are assembling at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

But Silver has not clarified - nor is it specified in the health and safety protocols that were sent to teams and players - just how many positive tests it would take for the league to shut down operations again.

“It’s the right question, and I’m not sure yet,” Silver said. “Certainly, if we had any sort of a significant spread at all within our campus, we would be shut down again.”

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