Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is adamant widespread testing for coronavirus will be available over the next two months, but insisted it will only reopen his team’s training facilities once the players and staff can be tested as often as White House staff are.
The NBA season has been suspended since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive to COVID-19.
Widespread testing has been a major stumbling block for professional leagues looking to return to action.
Health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of President Donald Trump‘s coronavirus task force, have repeatedly stated mass testing are a non-negotiable requirement.
Cuban, however, was optimistic widespread testing would be available within the next two months.
“Yes, absolutely,” he told The Athletic on Tuesday, when asked whether he thought the availability of coronavirus tests would increase rapidly.
“I just trust American exceptionalism, entrepreneurialism spirit and capitalism. You know, we’ll figure out a way because we have to.”
According to ESPN, executives on a call NBA commissioner held with the NBA Board of Governors on Tuesday were reportedly not confident widespread testing would become available within the next month.
Testing is a very delicate issue for the NBA. Like its counterparts, the league must test all its players if it hopes to receive the green light to return. On the other hand, however, it is also mindful of the PR impact conducting mass testing among the players may have at a time when widespread tests for the general public remain unavailable in most of the 50 states.
In March, New York City mayor Bill De Blasio criticized the Brooklyn Nets for testing all of their players after four individuals—including Kevin Durant—had tested positive to COVID-19.
Cuban then spoke about his decision to keep the Mavericks training facility closed.
Last week, the NBA allowed teams to reopen training facilities if allowed by state regulations and provided they adhered to a health and safety protocol.
While Texas Governor Greg Abbott lifted the state’s shelter-in-place order at the end of April, Cuban opted to keep the doors of the Mavericks’ training center firmly shut.
Speaking to The Athletic’s “77 Minutes in Heaven” podcast last week, he said the decision not allow players and personnel back in the facility had been taken because coronavirus testing was not at the level required.
On Tuesday, the Mavericks owner doubled down on his stance, suggesting the franchise will only reopen the doors to its players and staff once both can be tested as frequently as White House personnel.
“I’ll use the White House protocol,” he told The Athletic.
“The way the White House protects the president [Donald Trump] and vice president [Mike Pence] is the way that I want to protect our players and employees, you know? We’ll just try to just copy what they do as a means of knowing when the time is right.
“As of now, for all we know, for all we’ve been informed, anyways, they’re testing everybody. And they test their top people on a daily basis. And so they have access to the best science, the best information, and so it just makes sense to me that we just copy them.”
As of Wednesday morning, almost 1.37 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world. Over 82,300 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 230,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.
More than 291,900 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, a city located in China’s central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 4.26 million confirmed cases globally.