Mark Cuban remains the voice of optimism when it comes to a resumption of the NBA season.
The Mavericks’ owner went on ESPN Wednesday morning and touched on several ideas about how the NBA might return to action and complete the 2019-20 season, which was suspended on March 11 because of COVID-19.
Following is a transcript of Cuban’s appearance on the First Take show:
Question: When do you expect the NBA season to resume, and how?
Cuban: I don’t know the date. And it won’t happen until we can be absolutely certain that everybody will be safe. It’s safety first, no ifs, ands or buts about it. And so, I’ve been optimistic that it might happen before the start of June, but who knows now? We’ll listen to the scientists and take our cues from them.
Question: In terms of expectations, do you have any at all, or do you have the mentality that it’s inching closer toward the NBA believing that, indeed, there may not be a season?
Cuban: I really think we’ll have something. I really do. I don’t know how, where or when, but I do think we’ll have a season. It’s just so important to the United States of America. That’s just it. We need sports, we need something to rally behind. We need teams to cheer for. We need to high-five people, even if it’s just our family in our homes. We just need it right now. The NBA, we try to stay ahead of the curve. But we also have to be confident of setting the right example. So we won’t do it until it’s safe.
Question: (Regarding playing out the season in a quarantine environment with only essential personnel). Some superstars who have a lot of money may look at that and say, I don’t want to be away from my family for several months while we do this and may just say in that case, let’s forgo the season. How do you see that playing out? If owners also were also required to be there, would you spend several months away from your loved ones if there were only so many tests to go around to complete the season?
Cuban: Yes, absolutely. As much as I’d miss my family and as much as I’d rather be here with them, like we have been, there’s a bigger picture here. There’s a whole country that’s looking for something to cheer for, there’s a whole country that wants something to get excited about. I would do it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I think my fellow owners would probably do the same thing. As long as it’s safe, as long as we’re certain we’re not going to put ourselves at risk or put our families at risk when we come home, yes. I don’t want to speak for the players or the players’ association. I’m just speaking for myself. But the answer is absolutely, a 100-percent yes, I would go.
Question: How about booking two or three hotels for players and team officials and closest family members in Vegas and you’re locked down there and just get it done. There’s a couple arenas in Vegas you could play in. It’s right there in one city. You block out hotels and you handle it that way with people that have been tested and you know it’s safe and sound. How about something like that? Should that be considered?
Cuban: Yeah, as long as the scientists bless it, absolutely. I’m game for anything that’s safe. And there may be circumstances where we can make it more safe for players and their families and people who are essential personnel . . . that have to be there. Why not? I would be all for it. Again, I’m not speaking for the NBA. And again, my underlying principle is that sports are great for America. When we start to go from America 1.0, where we’ve been, to coming out of this in America 2.0, I think it’s a great opportunity and it’s a responsibility of the NBA to lead the way. We just have that obligation to try to lift the spirits of America and as long as it’s safe, I think we should do it.
Question: Let’s talk about the optics of that. FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt) was president in World War II and said to major-league baseball: we need you to play, we need the distraction. I understand the argument. But the optics of getting the number of tests required when they’re still not plentiful and accessible to the people who need them, how do you square that with the general public? And how do you acquire those tests even in the not-too-distant future?
Cuban: Two different answers there. One, if we’re talking about today or prior to today, you’re exactly right. There’s no reason we should be given priority over any other American citizen. But we’re not talking about today. We’re talking about some day in the future. Abbott Labs, as an example, announced that they were going to be shipping 50,000 tests a day starting a couple days ago that allows you to test people and have a response within 15 minutes. I’m guessing there will be other suppliers who do similar things.
So if it’s 30 days, which takes us to the end of April, we can start testing. Sixty days, which takes us to the end of May. There’s time for American ingenuity and our entrepreneurs and our scientists to solve that problem. So you’re right. If it was today, we couldn’t do it. But 30, 60, 90 days from now? I think there will be enough tests. And if there are, let’s go. Let’s figure out a way to make it safe, let the NBA, Adam (Silver, NBA commissioner), Michele Roberts (NBPA executive director) come up with the right solution and as long as it’s safe, I’d be all for it. I’m not making predictions. I’m not speaking for the NBA. I’m just being helpful.”