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NBA, Disney talks aren't only hopeful sign for league's return

The NBA is hoping Disney World truly is the happiest place on Earth.

Word started percolating mid-week that the association is looking seriously at Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort as the place it will restart the season. Apparently, the NBA was looking at Las Vegas and Houston among other places, but Disney has become the front runner.

Makes sense, really. 

Disney has plenty of available accommodations and amenities for teams; the massive theme parks have been shuttered since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, though some parts of the resort are starting to reopen. Additionally, Disney World provides the NBA a controllable one-stop shop, a place where the league can stay and play.

All that increases the hope that the NBA will return in some form or fashion.

But there are other reasons for optimism this could work.

A smattering of other sports leagues have already returned in places impacted by COVID-19. They are far flung and varied. Baseball and soccer in South Korea. Soccer in Germany. Stock car racing, mixed martial arts and bull riding in America. The leagues have done their restarts in different ways -- one big constant is no fans or an extremely limited number of them -- but the results have been promising.

No significant outbreaks.

Now, that's not to say the virus hasn't had an impact.

Every player and coach with Dynamo Dresden, a soccer team in Germany's Bundesliga 2 league, had to go into quarantine. Two players tested positive, so the decision was made to isolate everyone.

Only a few hours before UFC 249, fighter Ronaldo Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for coronavirus. They were sent home, and Souza's bout was canceled. UFC, however, decided to go forward with the event even though Souza and his people had been in contact with others, including UFC front man Dana White.

But even with those incidents of infection, the sports that have restarted haven't had big clusters of infection. 

There may be some luck involved. At least one epidemiologist blasted the UFC via Twitter for allowing a fighter with a pending test to be in contact with others. Considering the high level of contagion with this virus, the UFC has been fortunate a cluster of positive cases didn't bubble up.

But these restarted leagues aren't depending on luck. They have procedures and protocols in place to try to limit the spread of the virus, and thus far, they have succeeded.

Now, this is a small sample size. Extremely small. When you think about the number of sports leagues around the world, the ones that have restarted represent just a sliver of the entire pie.

But for the NBA, each one represents a test case. These leagues are allowing the NBA to see what will work and what may fall short. The NBA is unlikely to follow any other league's plan to the letter, but the association can benefit from their experiences, build off what is already working.

Even though the NBA will have to come up with its own unique blueprint, it can -- and should -- steal design ideas from elsewhere.

It's hard to think Adam Silver and Co. wouldn't do that. The NBA and its leaders are among the most forward thinking in all of sport. As a world-wide brand, the association has eyes on other places. It is aware of what is happening. It is mindful of best practices.

There are some positive things happening in other leagues around the world, and the NBA is surely aware of what they are doing.

No plan is virus-proof, of course. Not elsewhere. Not here. Even if the NBA devises a rock-solid modus operandi, there could still be infections. But as the league moves closer and closer to a return, there is hope not only that we'll get to see the NBA again but also that they'll avoid an outbreak.

It won't be because of Disney magic.

It will be because the NBA takes what is already working elsewhere and improves on it.

Related Photos
Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; General overall view of globe at the entrance to  ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; General overall view of globe at the entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f1805c149904e8701047049dd82e16f1.jpg" alt="Photo - Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; General overall view of globe at the entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports" title="Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; General overall view of globe at the entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports"><figcaption>Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; General overall view of globe at the entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports</figcaption></figure>
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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