The NBA is temporarily discontinuing in-game coaching interviews with TV networks to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus, according to sources. It’s also putting new restrictions on where, and how, TV sideline reporters can interview NBA players and coaches.
Under the NBA’s new temporary guidelines, sources said, there will no longer be coaching interviews during games. The league is also putting temporary restrictions on player interviews.
Sideline reporters will no longer be able to hand a player their microphone. Instead, reporters and players won’t be allowed to share the same mic. Network producers will have to capture player answers through boom mics. Media members will also be asked to keep a “reasonable” distance from players while conducting interviews.
The typical post-game player interview will no longer take place on the court. instead, sideline reporters will have to interview players “back of the house,” or in a hallway or meeting room.
While the sight of on-court reporters such as ESPN’s Doris Burke interviewing head coaches or players at the end of a quarter has become a staple of an NBA broadcast, the temporary guidelines are being issued as a result of the continued coronavirus outbreak.
Reporters from ESPN and TNT, the league’s two national TV partners, typically interview coaches after the 1st and 3rd quarters. Reporters for regional sports networks such as YES Network usually get coaches on camera for a few questions as they’re walking off at halftime.
“The league’s trying to limit the number of people sharing mics. And limit proximity to players and coaches,” according to a source.
On March 9 the NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS announced they were temporarily banning media from player locker rooms due to coronavirus concerns.
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms, and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice,” said the four leagues in the joint statement.
In a statement, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the NBA was “committed” to providing appropriate media access.
“In consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, we’re discussing with other sports leagues options to protect the health of everyone in our buildings, including those typically in our locker rooms.”