Mike D’Antoni would coach in mask if NBA season returns despite high-risk status for COVID-19, report says


NBA players are, by and large, not high-risk potential coronavirus patients. As a group, they tend to be young and healthy and have excellent access to healthcare through the league’s insurance. A number of players have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and none have undergone serious complications. Coaches are a bit more complicated, though. While thankfully, none that we know of have faced the worst consequences of the virus, many would be considered high-risk due to their age. Anyone over the age of 65 is considered high-risk.

That includes Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who is 69-years-old. That risk will not deter him if the season resumes, though. He plans to coach the Rockets in a potential postseason, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. D’Antoni is reportedly confident that NBA commissioner Adam Silver would not allow the season to resume if it was not safe, but would take precautions such as wearing a mask. 

The NBA has only two other head coaches that are at least 65-years-old in Alvin Gentry (65) and Gregg Popovich (71). Neither are currently in line to reach the postseason, but the NBA also has a number of older assistant coaches whose safety needs to be accounted for. The same is true of executives, scouts and broadcast personnel who would typically expect to be at games in person. Any plan to resume games needs to account for the safety of anyone who faces an increased risk of complications. 

So far, the NBA is only in the very early stages of a potential return. Practice facilities are beginning to reopen for individual workouts, but team workouts are still banned and the league hasn’t even decided if resuming the season will even be possible. When it ultimately does make that decision, it will do so with more information than it has at the moment, and hopefully, that will include proper protocols for the safety of players, coaches and anybody else considered essential personnel for a resumed season. 





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