The 76ers are like everybody else when dealing with the coronavirus situation, sharing the same fears and emotions.
Following a week on the West Coast, where they went 1-3, the Sixers returned to practice on Tuesday. They played two games in Los Angeles, then traveled to Sacramento and finally to San Francisco where the trip ended with Saturday’s 118-114 loss to the Warriors.
There are so many questions about how professional teams will deal with the situation going forward. The biggest question is whether teams will eventually play in empty arenas. So much uncertainty exists.
“It has certainly been different dealing with all this; it puts a lot of perspective about things and makes you aware of, making sure you’re taking care of yourself better, trying to do better for people around you,” Sixers forward-center Al Horford said. “Yeah, it’s definitely ... it has been stressful at times, I mean being back East it seems a little better. Out in the West, I feel like there was definitely more of an edge to it ...”
Coach Brett Brown said when the team was in San Francisco, the Warriors were a big help in dealing with the situation.
“Their team doctor came in and explained like this is their venue policy, the procedures and the protocols that are now in place to make us feel more comfortable,” Brown said. “You know they were aware there was some anxiety at that stage in San Francisco, there were quite a few cases ... In general, we had a lot of information given to us.”
Less than hour after the media availability was completed, the Philadelphia Health Department sent out a recommendation that city residents — especially those who are elderly or have chronic health conditions — consider not attending public gatherings with more than 5,000 expected attendees.
A team source responded to The Inquirer about this recommendation.
“There are no changes to the game schedule at this time,” the source said. “We will continue to monitor the situation in accordance with the NBA and Wells Fargo Center. It is important to note that the DOH made a point to emphasize that this recommendation was focused on the elderly or those who have chronic health conditions.”
The source added that the Philadelphia Health Department didn’t mandate postponement or cancellation of any events or issue closures of schools, universities, city or state offices.
As for the subject of ticket refunds, the source said the Sixers "will manage it on a case by case basis and work closely with our fans to find another game for them to attend in the future.”
Brown was asked before this recommendation was announced what it would be like if the Sixers had to play a game without fans, something the NBA has been mulling over.
“It would, obviously, be a rough situation, and not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination, but going back to my original point, if the people in the know felt like that was what was needed to do to provide the greatest level of safety, then that’s what we will do,” Brown said. “And, you know, we all obviously hope it doesn’t get to that stage.”
Point guard Shake Milton was asked about the possibility of playing in empty arenas.
“It would definitely be weird, hopefully it doesn’t get to that point, everybody likes playing in front of the fans” Milton said. I don’t know, I can’t even imagine what it would be like, pickup (basketball games) ..."
Sixers guard Josh Richardson, who returned to practice Tuesday after missing three games with a nose contusion and a concussion, called the situation “scary.”
He then elaborated.