Basketball: Spurs coach Popovich feels safe in NBA 'bubble'

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – The move to create a “bubble” environment for the restart of the National Basketball Association (NBA) has earned the thumbs up from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

He had pondered sitting out the NBA restart before eventually deciding the NBA’s “bubble” might be the best place to be during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 71-year-old sees the number of new cases rocketing upward in the state of Texas and feels the protected atmosphere in Florida is more comforting.

“I’m safer here than I would be in Texas for sure as you see what’s going on there,” Popovich said on Saturday (July 11) during a Zoom teleconference call.

The Lone Star State reported a single-day record 10,351 cases on Saturday as well as 99 deaths. And individuals 65 and older are at greater risk to contracting the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

So Popovich isn’t second-guessing a decision that puts him in a controlled environment with constant testing.

“Being 71 years old, I thought, ‘Is this where I want to spend a lot of my time, doing this, under these circumstances?'”

Popovich told reporters of his decision-making process.

“‘Do I really want to do this? Is it safe?’ But I talked to a lot of people. I talked to (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver). You find out pretty quickly what he and his staff of many have gone through to put this thing together. It’s not just being a loyal soldier in the NBA.

“But I don’t know where else you would be as safe as we are right now. From an intellectual point of a view and a medical point of view, I would have to say I am safer here, if this bubble works.”

The Spurs (27-36) will be long shots to make the play-offs once the restart begins.

San Antonio, which open play against the Sacramento Kings on July 31, sits four games behind the eighth-placed Memphis Grizzlies.

Making matters worse is that seven-time All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is done for the season after surgery on his right shoulder in late April.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard and Danny Green had missed practice on Saturday over Covid-19 tests.

According to the Los Angeles Times and The Athletic, Green missed because of a glitch with the coronavirus testing process and Howard because he has to test negative a second time before clearing quarantine protocols.

The practice was the first for the Lakers at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida ahead of the resumption of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season.

The Lakers expect to have both players available for Sunday’s practice.

The Lakers (49-14) will restart on July 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers sporting the best record in the Western Conference.

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