Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus test in March led NBA commissioner Adam Silver to make the all-important decision of suspending the season. The rest of the sports world followed suit.
What will not be the case for the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Florida, though, is one player’s positive test impacting plans. Speaking Tuesday in a virtual chat with TIME, Silver said as much.
“Never full steam ahead no matter what,” Silver told TIME. “One thing we are learning about this virus is much (is) unpredictable, and we and our players together with their union look at the data on a daily basis.”
As for the number of cases it would take to stop play, Silver said “we haven’t put a precise number on it.”
“But if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well,” he told TIME.
Silver repeatedly referred to the “campus’ environment at Disney as the safest way for the league to return, despite the surging cases in some states, including Florida. He also said the NBA’s model accounted for an uptick in cases nationwide.
“I’m pretty confident, largely because we are playing on a campus that is confined in that the only way to gain access to that campus is to be part of our protocol where there is regular testing,” Silver said. “And if someone were to leave our campus, they would need to test and quarantine in order to return to play. So at least in terms of the model, we are protected from the rate of cases in the broader community.”
The social justice movement sweeping across the nation, with NBA players speaking up and supporting, will also be on the forefront of the league’s resumption. “Black Lives Matter” will be painted on the courts. But when asked whether the NBA would “allow” players to kneel during the national anthem, Silver was non-committal, citing a decades-old league rule.
“I am not comfortable with the word ‘allow,'” Silver told TIME. “I think we have had a rule on our books that goes back to the early ’80s that precedes even David Stern’s tenure as commissioner that calls for players to stand in a line and attention during the national anthem. I also understand the role of protest, and I think that we’ll deal with that situation when it presents itself.”