The potential NBA season return is just around the corner, but two of the biggest stars in the game have been called out for flaunting the league’s strict shutdown rules.
LeBron James and Ben Simmons have long teamed up for off-season workouts and they did so again as preparations for the return of games amplifies.
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The two high-profiled superstars were snapped shooting around in a half court setting with megastar agent Rich Paul and others watching on.
But as pointed out by New York Times reporter Marc Stein, the workout goes against the NBA’s rules that were put in place when the league shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Such workouts and pick-up games, of course, are against league rules and have been throughout the shutdown. But there has no been no indication that any players seen active of late in various videos or still footage will be sanctioned for exposing themselves to unsafe conditions,” Stein tweeted.
“No punishment was ever specified in the league’s various memorandums to teams and players urging the players to avoid working out anywhere but team practice facilities … because the rule, I’m told, was conceived with the intent to be protective rather than punitive.
“Players are required to report to their teams by Monday … with team-administered COVID-19 testing scheduled to begin Tuesday.”
The NBA is getting set to return with a revamped 22-team showing to be based at Disney World in Florida. One of the additions to the NBA’s “bubble” which raised eyebrows was the inclusion of an “anonymous hotline” for reporting of potential breaches of protocols.
The news set off a wild chain reaction on social media with many believing the line will be exploited by opposing teams to try and catch a star opponent out. Even NBA stars couldn’t believe what they were reading.
Guidelines sent out to all competing teams saw an extensive list of dos and donts for players, including no doubles in table tennis.
Among the highlights: players must shower in their individual hotel rooms instead of the game or practice arenas, be part of a contact tracing program, and that it is “recommended that coaches wear face coverings pre- or post-game where feasible.”
“The occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption of the 2019-20 season,” the NBA wrote.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that if a player does not feel comfortable playing at Disney – whether for health reasons or because of the social-justice issues – then he does not have to report with his team and will not be disciplined, other than losing salary for games missed.
— with AP