Mark Cuban is taking the under on a hypothetical June 1 NBA return.
Cuban said he has been in contact with the CDC and other organizations at the forefront of combatting the new coronavirus, and the expectation is that the threat will be contained to a point where the NBA can be back by mid-summer.
“The over-under would be June 1, and I’m taking the under. Hopefully by the middle of May we’re starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games,” Cuban told WFAA. “Maybe not with fans, but we’re playing games.”
The NBA announced a 30-day hiatus on March 12 after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with COVID-19 moments before a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The shutdown is now expected to last longer, with the league also banning practices and shutting down facilities.
Commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with ESPN earlier this month that he is hopeful the NBA will be able to play at least a portion of its season.
“We’re exploring all options to resume our season if and when it is safe to do so,” Silver said on March 21. “Nothing is off the table.”
MLB and the NHL followed the NBA’s decision to postpone their seasons as COVID-19 continued to spread.
“I’m proud of the NBA and the way we reacted,” Cuban said on WFAA. “And hopefully we’ll lead the way out of this.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 44,183 cases of the new coronavirus in the country so far, and at least seven NBA players have contracted the virus. But Cuban remains optimistic that the world might be closer to a solution than previously anticipated.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer and closer,” he said. “Once we have a medical light at the end of the tunnel, where we know what the worst case is, then, ok, we can start venturing outside and being in groups of 10 instead of being by ourselves, and then groups of 25, and then 50 an go from there.
“I think that’s the first step and I think that’s going to happen a little bit faster than we originally expected.”
Like many in the sports community, Cuban believes that leagues, such as the NBA, bring people together during difficult times.
“Sports play such an important role. People want something to cheer for, people want something to rally around. … And if the Mavs and the NBA in general can get out there and start playing games in May, so that they’re on TV, I mean, sports is what we need right now.”