Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s glass is half full.
In an interview with WFAA in Dallas, Cuban gave his perspective on a potential return date for the NBA, and if he’s right, the NBA could be back in our lives sooner than expected.
“Hopefully by the middle of May, we’re starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games,” Cuban told WFAA’s Mike Lesile during a Skype call. “Maybe not with fans, but we’re playing it because sports plays such an important role. You know, people want something to cheer for, people want something to rally around, people want something to be excited about.”
Amen to the whole “people want something to rally around” part!
Regardless, a mid-May return would be far earlier than expected at this point in time. While that seemed to coincide with an initial belief in the league, the rapid growth of the virus around the country has only increased the projected length of the NBA hiatus.
When Adam Silver spoke with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on March 18th, he wasn’t able to commit to any kind of return date. Then, just yesterday, ESPN reported the “loosest of drop-dead dates” would be to have the NBA Finals at the beginning of September, which would mean starting the league back up around July. However, the league still doesn’t want to limit themselves yet with any kind of last resort date, even as Ramona Shelburne reported, the general opinion around the entire league is to salvage this season no matter what.
The fact that the league is even speaking about September basketball kind of puts this whole hiatus into perspective though, right? Clearly, while Cuban’s optimistic, the NBA remains very unsure about where things are heading.
From the start, Cuban hasn’t shied away from talking about the recent COVID-19 pandemic, even being interviewed live on television multiple times during the night of the league’s suspension. After immediately announcing his plan to pay all arena workers and ensuring his team took the necessary precautions, it’s clear Cuban has increasingly continued to think about how to get the league back on track.
According to him, his conversations with the CDC have made him feel somewhat confident in a return before June 1st, and while it’s impossible to rule anything out at this point in time, that certainly goes against the grain. The closest estimate we’ve gotten to that timeframe came earlier this month when Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league saw mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario.
I’m not trying to sit here and discredit anything Cuban is saying. After all, I so badly want to believe the league returns sooner rather than later. But everything about this situation is doused in the unknown, and I think what Shelburne had to say the other day sums it up best: “We’re all learning that you can’t predict this thing, and anybody who tells you they know what’s going to happen in a month or two months is lying to you right now because that’s what the league is grappling with just like all of us.”
The quote might not fully apply to someone like Cuban because I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s “lying” at all, but rather being hopeful. Although, the root of what Shelbourne is saying is exactly right: what we’re seeing today could be completely different tomorrow. With that being the case, Cuban could end up being right or the NBA might not be back on our television screens until mid-summer.
Only time will tell.