Report: NBA to require players to wear sensors as part of contact tracing

Justin Benjamin
4 Min Read

The NBA isn’t taking any chances with safety in regards to the coronavirus.

As a matter of fact, the league reportedly plans to require players to wear sensors in order to strengthen contact tracing.

“The NBA is planning to roll out an ambitious aspect of its leaguewide contact tracing program by requiring players and many team staffers to wear sensor devices during all team-organized activities outside of games starting Jan. 7, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN,” wrote Baxter Holmes of


“Only Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals — designations outlined in the league’s health and safety protocols that include players and specific staff members, such as coaches — will be required to wear Kinexon SafeZone contact sensor devices on the team plane, the team bus, during practices and to and from the arena or their home practice facility in connection with team travel, the memo states.


“Not wearing the sensors is subject to discipline, but it’s unclear what the discipline might be. Players are not required to wear the sensors during games or at the team hotel when traveling.”

The NBA saw the coronavirus interrupt their 2019-20 campaign. Numerous players contracted the highly contagious virus last season.

As a matter of fact, veteran Christian Wood thought he was going to die because the virus inflicted him so harshly.

The league was able to safely finish the 2019-20 season in a secluded bubble in Orlando, Fla. Dozens of precautions were put into place so that players were safe and monitored.

“The sensors do not record GPS location and will activate when coming within close proximity, which is defined as 6 feet, to another person wearing one — a point that health officials across the NBA emphasized to quell concerns about whether individual movements would be monitored,” wrote Holmes. “It is expected that the ‘proximity alarm’ feature on the devices, which was active in the Orlando, Florida, bubble, will be disabled this season.


“The memo states that the sensors will record ‘the distance and duration of in-person interactions’ with others who are wearing a sensor, which the NBA believes will aid in its contact tracing reviews in instances of positive coronavirus cases. Such reviews will also include interviews of players and staff members, as well as potentially examining camera footage at team facilities, to better understand who might have been exposed to an infected individual.


“One health official with direct knowledge of the situation noted that the sensors should significantly help in better determining which players or staff might need to be quarantined should the situation arise.”

Of course, the case is much different this season as teams are playing in their respective markets. The Houston Rockets already had to postpone one of their games due to contract tracing.

As a result, the league wants to be very careful as the season continues.

“It’s definitely going to have its bumps in the road,” said the health official, who added that the sensors wouldn’t be worn on personal time.

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Justin has been writing about the NBA for several years. In addition to his stellar news coverage of the league, he has conducted multiple interviews with players and people around the league.