Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
“We’re gonna make a decision in the next week,” Barkley said regarding the NBA’s comeback during an appearance on ESPN's “The Paul Finebaum Show.” “I'm 100 percent sure we're going to play. I know my friends in Major League Baseball are going to play. I think that the hockey league is going to play.”
Barkley said his certainty stemmed from his conversations with his “bosses at Turner,” one of the NBA’s main broadcast partners. The Basketball Hall of Famer inductee said the NBA would likely resume play at a hub based in Florida and possibly Las Vegas.
The NBA is in advanced talks to resume play in late July at the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando, league officials confirmed last week. Tentative plans call for the site to serve as a “campus” for all 30 NBA teams.
“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.
Like other sports leagues, the NBA was forced to suspend play in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic intensified. A season restart would move forward without fans in attendance at games for the foreseeable future, costing league owners hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
At the time of the shutdown, NBA teams had played approximately 65 games each. Reaching 70 regular-season games is a key milestone because it would allow the NBA to meet its media obligations to regional sports network and preserve a key revenue source, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported in March.
It’s unclear if the NBA will attempt to play out the remainder of its 82-game regular-season schedule.