One of the biggest challenges that the NBA has encountered in constructing its Disney World bubble has been discerning who is and is not healthy enough to join it. Several NBA head coaches, for example, are 65 or older, which is the age at which someone is considered high risk for complications stemming from the coronavirus. That has led to rumblings that those coaches would not be allowed to lead their teams in Orlando (despite their insisted desire to do so). But as that would be discrimination based on age, the NBA has had to look into more holistic solutions.  

The league has sent a medical questionnaire to players and teams to determine whether they are medically able to enter the bubble, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Earlier in June, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported that the NBA was forming a panel of physicians to evaluate individual risk against COVID-19. That panel will have the unilateral ability to prevent anyone with preexisting health risks from entering the bubble. Below is the rule as stated in the NBA's 113-page health and safety handbook for the restart in Disney, as obtained by CBS Sports. 

"Within three days following the later of (i) the initial submission from the team (for Protected Player Referrals per page 16), (ii) the submission from the NBA (for Not Protected Player Referrals per page 16), and (iii) the submission of any subsequent medical information timely provided (per page 16), the Panel must make a determination, based on the Panel's reasonable medical judgment and experience, and having considered current medical knowledge, regarding whether the player's Risk Factor(s) would present a direct threat to his health were the player to participate in the agreed-upon competition. Given the evolving coronavirus situation, in the absence of authoritative medical guidelines on characteristics or conditions that may place an individual at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, the Panel will consider CDC guidelines regarding such characteristics. If the Panel concludes that the player's Risk Factor(s) present such a direct threat, then the player will be protected by exclusion from participation and therefore a Protected Player. Upon reaching a determination, the Panel must communicate that decision in writing to the NBA, NBPA, team physician, and player simultaneously. The Physician Panel's decision will be final, binding, and unappealable."

So what does this mean in laymen's terms? Anyone entering the bubble must fill out the questionnaire sent out by teams. They must also receive a letter from either their team's doctor or their personal physician clearing them for participation in Orlando. However, even if a team approves somebody's presence, the league can flag that person for further review by one or more league-appointed physicians. If the league appointed doctor or doctors decide that joining the league in Orlando would threaten that person's health, they can prevent them from participating in the restarted season. That person would have no recourse to challenge that doctor's decision.

This has led to some concern among the NBA Coaches Association that some of its members could see their careers jeopardized. They released a statement through ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe Wednesday. 

"The health and safety of all NBA coaches is our main concern," the statement read. "However, we are also concerned with a coach's opportunity to work and to not have their ability to secure future jobs be severely jeopardized. The league assured us that a coach will not be excluded solely because of age.

"We feel the medical review process is designed to flag only those individuals who pose significant threats of substantial harm to themselves that cannot be reduced or eliminated by the NBA's considerable steps to create a healthy and safe atmosphere in Orlando.

"Adam (Silver) and the NBA have created a situation in Orlando that is likely far safer than in our coaches' home markets. Absent a significant threat, we believe a coach should be able to understand and assume their individual risks, waive liability, and coach in Orlando."

While there have been no reports indicating that a team would consider firing a head coach over health concerns, the fact that the virus will be present for an undetermined period of time certainly poses challenges. If a coach cannot enter the Disney bubble, who is to say whether it would be safe for them to coach next season? If they were forced to miss next season, how comfortable would other teams feel in potentially hiring already aging coaches even when it is safe? There are not right answers to these questions, but the looming threat of the virus poses a threat not only to the health of these coaches, but their professional futures.

There are three head coaches slated to appear at Disney who are at least 65: Alvin Gentry (65), Mike D'Antoni (69) and Gregg Popovich (71). Warren LeGarie, who represents D'Antoni and Gentry, told ESPN "I hope there is a basketball solution to this issue rather than a legal one." The coaches themselves have been outspoken about their desire to lead their teams freely in Orlando. 

"They're going to make the choice. I think it's unfair if that's what they're doing," Gentry said. "I understand the risk that I'm taking if I do get it. But hell, I want to be with my team and do my job. That's what they hired me for."

Rick Carlisle, the head of the NBCA, has been adamant that age not be the sole determining factor. 

"I just spoke to Adam Silver and he admitted that he jumped the gun with his statement to TNT," Carlisle told Wojnarowski. "The health and safety of our coaches is first and foremost. It's entirely possible that an NBA coach in his 60s or 70s could be healthier than someone in their 30s or 40s. The conversation should never be solely about a person's age. Adam assured me that we would work through this together to help determine what is both safe and fair for all of our coaches."

Although coaches face risks based on their age, there are younger players who still face meaningful coronavirus risk. JaVale McGee, for instance, has asthma, and there has been no word on whether that will impact his availability in Orlando. The priority, for the moment, appears to be creating as safe and secure a bubble as possible.