Silver tells players he is hopeful for ‘portion’ of fans in 2020-21

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses reporters at a recent news conference. File photo

Forty percent of the NBA’s revenue reportedly comes from ticket sales and it would only make sense if the league is hoping to get fans back in the building for the 2020-21 season, whenever that may be.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, that is a topic commissioner Adam Silver discussed with players during a conference call last week.

“It sucks, but it just may be our reality for a while,” Silver told players on the call, per audio obtained by ESPN. “It may be that … there’ll be a point we can bring a portion of our fans back where they sit every other seat or every third seat.

“… Assuming a vaccine isn’t coming any time soon, are there things we can do in our arenas where maybe we can’t have 19,000 people, but maybe we can have 5,000 people? Maybe we can have 8,000 people? Maybe there are protocols allowing for it?”

With no decision yet made on resuming this season, the 2020-21 calendar year may not tip off until December, January or even later. Meanwhile, if this season does resume, fans are not expected to be in the buildings at all.

But the league doesn’t want it to be that way forever.

“Most teams are modeling ways to get fans into premium seating arrangements if social-distancing protocol limits — or prohibits — fans in arenas,” Wojnarowski reported. “And one team is already investing in research showing how requiring fans to wear masks and limiting attendance of those in vulnerable age groups and with preexisting conditions could lower game-night risks to something closer to the flu than COVID-19, sources said.”

Sam Amico covers pro basketball for Sports Illustrated. Follow him @AmicoHoops.