Orlando Magic’s permission to return and get tested is good for everyone

The Orlando Magic offense got itself going behind Nikola Vucevic in the post and held off the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic offense got itself going behind Nikola Vucevic in the post and held off the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic received permission from Orange County to test its players for COVID-19. This is a good sign of the county’s progress in recovering.

The AdventHealth Practice Facility is still relatively quiet. But it will not be that way for much longer. The Orlando Magic are starting to rouse to life again in the limited fashion the league will allow.

The wait will just have to be a little longer.

The team said in a statement that it anticipates it will be able to open for individual workouts beginning Tuesday. It is a moment several players seem very excited about, at the very least.



They still will not be able to do a ton when they get back into the Amway Center. Their workouts will be limited to working on individual baskets with development coaches only. Only four players will be allowed in the facility at any one time with just two players on the court.

It is better than nothing.

The rest of the league is also slowly clicking back into place. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers both reportedly opened up their training facilities Friday. That is a positive movement.

Slow, but positive.

And slow is going to be the operative word for a little while. In addition to the option to reopen facilities, players joined commissioner Adam Silver for a conference call to help clear the air and answer any questions they might have as the NBA tries to map its way forward.

The clear message is the league is still far away from a return.

Silver reportedly told players that 40 percent of their revenue comes from fans — including attendance, in-arena sales and merchandise sales — and so there will be a massive financial hit this season and likely next. Silver said the league will still be dealing with the effects of the virus even long after the league returns, estimating it may take a year to create a vaccine that could make it safe for fans to return to arenas.

The NBA, it seems, is preparing to play without fans for the 2021 season.

That does not start to get into this season. It appears the NBA is still going through several contingencies, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer details.

Silver reportedly told players that the best scenario is to have every team gather in one or two locations to finish the season and try to keep everyone protected in a quarantined bubble. Players still do not seem thrilled at the idea of being contained in a single location.

For now, Disney World/Orlando and Las Vegas seem to be the favorites to host such a bubble site.

There is still a lot of work to do to get there. The NBA is not going to begin doing anything until testing becomes more widespread. And there seems to be no rush to make any decisions. Silver reportedly told players that no decision has to be made even this month leading into June.

But there is some good news if the league wants to and can move forward.

The general rule throughout the league is teams cannot test players for COVID-19 unless they meet local testing criteria. Potentially asymptomatic carriers cannot get test.

A few NBA teams are participating in an antibody test with the Mayo Clinic, but antibody tests show whether a person had and recovered from coronavirus rather than being an active carrier.

A few teams, including the Magic, got an exception to this rule.

The Magic confirmed they had received written permission from Orange County Department of Health officer Dr. Raul Pino to test players. They received assurances that using such testing would not take away necessary tests from medical and healthcare workers.

It is not clear how the Magic will use this access. They very well could ask for testing before players begin entering the facility or use it as needed. But the access is the point for now.

The news in Orange County has been generally pretty good.

Mayor Jerry Demings held a press conference shortly after all this news broke to report Orange County had fewer than 10 new confirmed positive tests in the last 24 hours. It was an encouraging sign and he commended Orange County residents for their commitment to social distancing and to helping the county flatten its curve.

The county lifted its curfew effective Monday and life is slowly returning to some normalcy. Antibody testing is now available in the county as it tries to contribute to the next stage of prevention.

Good enough news to allow the Magic access to testing and break with some of the NBA’s league-wide policies.

Considering Orlando and Orange County is one of the locations the league is considering hosting games whenever it resumes, the fact the county is comfortable making tests available to players is a very good sign of how far ahead the Orlando area is.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

This is as much good news for the people of Central Florida and Orange County specifically as it is for the league and for the Magic. They would not be able to keep going if not for the efforts and sacrifices we have all made.

Orange County has been surprisingly effective at bending its curve even with the presence of international travel destinations like Disney World and Universal Orlando present. It was quick action, especially by the parks that never shut down except in emergencies, that likely slowed the spread.

It is not a time to completely celebrate victory, but this is largely good news.

Everyone should remain on guard and continue to follow health guidelines. We are not out of the woods yet.

But as the NBA maps its return, Orlando and Orange County have provided a ton of stability and progress to show the league — and apparently MLS — that they could help the league get itself going again.

The county is probably not at the point it would feel comfortable doing that yet. The NBA certainly is not there yet either. It almost certainly wants testing to be even more widespread with the public before it reserves tests for itself to host its bubble site.

And the NBA still wants to give players time to ramp up for the season. That will likely take several weeks of individual training followed by at least two and possibly three weeks of a training camp.

The NBA is still a long way away.

Next. 10 more classic Magic games to watch. dark

But Friday’s update and the slow reopening of practice facilities are all positive signs. And especially in Orange County and Orlando, the progress is very encouraging.