Though he is among the oldest in the league, and at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni apparently has “no reservations” about returning to the sideline to coach should the NBA resume play, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
D’Antoni, who is in his fourth season with the Rockets, turns 69 on Friday.
Multiple general managers said last week that they felt uneasy about their team’s coaches, staff members and others that are over 60 years old being present for games, as they’ll be at a higher risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that those who either have underlying medical conditions or are 65 years and older, or both, are at a higher risk of infection.
“Based on all the information that we have today, probably people over 60 with preexisting conditions can’t go, for sure, no matter what their titles are,” one general manager said, speaking to ESPN anonymously. “Whether it’s a father of the star player or whether it’s the general manager of the team, they can’t go there.”
D’Antoni is the second-oldest coach in the league, behind only San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich at 71. New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, Detroit coach Dwane Casey, Portland coach Terry Stotts and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle are all in their 60s, too.
D’Antoni, per ESPN, has full confidence that NBA commissioner Adam Silver would create a safe environment for the league to resume play should it decide to do so, which is why he is willing to continue coaching. He has been sheltering in place at his Houston home throughout the league hiatus.
There were more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus. There were more than 35,700 confirmed cases in Texas alone, a large portion of which were centered around both the Houston and Dallas areas.
The NBA still has no set plan for play to resume anytime soon, though it is reportedly considering several different options and plans. The league is allowing teams to open their practice facilities up again if allowed by the state starting on Friday, and at least three teams plan to do so. Other franchises, however, are still concerned about reopening facilities at this point — including Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who said “it’s just not worth” reopening when “we can’t assure anybody’s safety.”
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