The NBA’s new ‘Black Lives Matter’ court paint and socially distanced bench chairs have been unveiled at Disney World in Orlando as the league prepares to restart its season next week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Malika Andrews posted pictures on social media from inside the NBA’s bubble, which is aimed at keeping players and staff safe from the outbreak while 22 of the 30 league teams attempt to finish the 2019-2020 season.
The paint job had previously been reported, but had gone unseen until Tuesday. Players will also have the option of having social justice messages, like ‘Black Lives Matter,’ emblazoned on the backs of their jerseys.
The games will take place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports campus at Disney World, where players will be spaced on the bench and announcers will be enclosed in plexiglass to reduce risk of infection.
Since spectators are not permitted to attend, the court is also surrounded by large scoreboard screens, which will display messages for fans at home and advertisements.
The good news for the NBA is that the bubble appears to be working.
With zero positive test results in the NBA bubble this week, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked that the league could share its approach to COVID-19 prevention with President Donald Trump.
‘Maybe we should send our game plan to the White House,’ Rivers said Tuesday.
Two players tested positive during the first week teams spent at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando from July 7-13, including Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook.
Another 19 players tested positive for the coronavirus during in-market testing that began July 1 before the teams headed to central Florida.
Numbers continue to surge elsewhere in Florida. ABC News reported Monday there were 10,347 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 360,394. The seven-day average has been greater than 10,000 over the last week, according to the state health department, and more than 5,000 have died in Florida.
‘They’ve done everything right as far as I’m concerned,’ Rivers said of the NBA incorporating constant symptom checks and mandating masks at the resort. ‘When you think about that we’re running a village for the first time, the league is doing pretty well. … But as far as our health, we have an app every morning that we have to do, wearing bands, facemasks.’
The Clippers are scheduled to resume the 2019-2020 season on July 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers.