NBA Tightens Game Protocols; Hugs, Handshakes Forbidden

NBA Tightens Game Protocols; Hugs, Handshakes Forbidden

The NBA warned teams and players to stop disregarding rules against unnecessary physical contact during live games. To contain the situation, the league’s moving team security will now be positioned into the midcourt area. They will oversee the prevention of contact violations, including hugging and handshakes, starting today.

The league already tightened regulations on players and staff, as well as several other personnel, to lessen the possibility of on-court transmissions during the start of the 2020-21 season. However, it seems like these new protocols in place aren’t enough because the NBA went as far as preventing players from socializing after the games.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s report today, NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent out a list of updated protocols to teams, alerting them that unnecessary contacts are no longer allowed after the games. The league updated the rules that require teams to remain on their half of the court in pregame and halftime warm-ups and avoid unnecessary contacts such as high-fives, hugs, and handshakes. Extended postgame conversations are also not allowed anymore. Physical contacts should be limited to elbow or fist bumps.

Further, non-team guests staying in hotels when teams are traveling are now banned. The league previously allowed family members and close friends to join players from traveling to and from their live games.

These new protocols were put into place after the NBA witnessed Bradley Beal and his longtime friend Jason Tatum exchange hugs and handshakes on January 8. Tatum tested positive for COVID-19 the next day, while Beal entered quarantine shortly after. There were also instances of traditional postgame contacts between other players following the incident, as per the report of the NBA.

At press time, covering the week of January 13 to 19, the league reported 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 out of 502 players. Due to the rising cases, the league postponed its 16th regular-season game for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Players and staff of the Grizzlies are now undergoing contact tracing.

The NBA 2020-21 season continues today with a match between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Brooklyn Nets. The two will face each other until Saturday, January 23.