Cuban predicts NBA will return by mid-May

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BY CALLIE CAPLAN
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS/TNS

Feeling stir-crazy without sports as daily life has nearly shut down in response to the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?

Mark Cuban might be able to help.

The Mavericks’ owner offered an optimistic timeline for the NBA’s potential return during an interview with WFAA that circulated Tuesday on Twitter.

Cuban predicted the NBA will start “to get back to normal” in mid-May, which would mark about two months after the league announced March 11 it would suspend operations indefinitely due to the highly contagious virus.

‘We’ve led the way’

“I’m proud of the NBA and the way we’ve reacted,” Cuban said in the interview. “We’ve led the way and hopefully will lead the way out of this. No one has perfect information right now, so all decisions are tough, but if I had to guess based off the people I’ve talked to at the CDC and other places, I would say that the over-under (for the league’s return) would be June 1 and I’m taking the under.

“Hopefully by the middle of May we’re starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games, maybe not with fans, but we’re playing games.”

Cuban praised the North Dallas community for “coming together” as interactions and lifestyles have transformed because of social distancing and public isolation measures.

Vehicle for distraction

Mavericks players and coaches and the organization’s charity foundation have been instrumental in recent weeks to supporting arena workers, health care providers and the local economy. Cuban highlighted sports as a vehicle for continued distraction and positivity.

“People want something to root for,” Cuban said. “People want something to rally around.

People want something to be excited about and if the Mavs and the NBA in general can get out there and start playing games in May so that they’re on TV, sports is what we need right now.”

It’s not clear whether the NBA — or other professional sports organizations — share Cuban’s outlook on the timeline.

‘Getting closer’

Utah All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, prompting the league to postpone the Jazz-Thunder game and announce the suspension during the third quarter of the Mavericks’ win over the Nuggets. In total, at least 14 individuals, including 10 players, from seven franchises have also tested positive.

Should scientists soon find a therapy that minimizes the impact of the virus, Cuban expects the NBA will again set precedent: as the first league to resume operations.

“I think we’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer and closer,” Cuban said.

“Once we have a medical light at the end of the tunnel where we know what the worst case is, then OK, we can start venturing outside and being in groups of 10 instead of being by ourselves … I think that’s going to happen a little bit faster than we originally expected.”

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