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The NBA’s COVID situation appears to be deteriorating rapidly. It was just Thursday night last week when the Philadelphia 76ers received word of a positive test result for Seth Curry while he was sitting on the bench during a game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Curry wasn’t playing in the game because of a sprained ankle and he was wearing a mask while on the bench, but he was also in close proximity with teammates and coaches. The game continued, potentially putting Nets players at risk and they were later allowed to travel out for a weekend game against Memphis.
Several 76ers’ players were forced into preventative quarantine because of close contact with Curry. They lost to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night using an eight-man rotation with rookie Paul Reed, Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe attempting 60 of the team’s 103 shot attempts. The Boston Celtics were also dealing with an outbreak of their own, first with a positive test for Robert Williams and then for Jayson Tatum, with accompanying quarantines for close contacts of both players. Boston’s Sunday game against the Heat had to be rescheduled because they couldn’t field the minimum of eight rostered players.
The league has said that, at this point, they aren’t considering pausing the season but it seems either disingenuous or incredibly irresponsible if they haven’t at least discussed it, merely as a precaution. One of the concerns that has been pointed out is that pausing the season won’t necessarily keep the players from being exposed to the virus, it will simply keep spread from happening at games and team facilities. But the more the players in team facilities and abiding by league-mandated testing and tracing protocols, the more information the league will have.
Why is the NBA seeing a spike in COVID cases?
Occam’s razor is a philosophical principle that states that the simplest explanation for a complex situation is usually the correct one. In the case of the NBA’s sudden COVID spike, the simplest explanation would be that despite the protocols the league has in place, we’re seeing more cases because we’re seeing more cases around the country. Even in a marginally closed environment, the NBA is still subject to the larger public health context.
But that might not be the only reason. Take this with an enormous grain of salt, but retired player and noted a**head Andrew Bogut has reported on his new podcast that the NBPA negotiated a troubling loophole in the COVID protocols. He claims to have a copy of the league’s memo and that there is a provision whereby each NBA player is permitted to have up to two guests per road trip in his hotel room and that those guests do not necessarily need to be tested.
So how this isn’t leading all discourse is beyond me. On the road, per union demands, players get up to two guests (total) in their rooms during the trip. Those guests don’t have to be tested. And were wondering how players are entering protocol? pic.twitter.com/okzp8tjKbb
— Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace) January 11, 2021
Bogut has espoused white nationalist philosophies in the past and expressed support for wild conspiracy theories, things that don’t exactly scream credibility. But he appears to be reading from the memo in this clip and would obviously have the connections with active players to actually get something like this. For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen this detail reported independently by any other outlets which may speak to its veracity as well. And even if it is true, it’s not a direct line between this policy and the positive test results for Curry, Williams, Tatum or any other player.
But, if this is true, it seems like a policy that basically undermines every other piece of the plan. For all the testing and contact tracing that’s built into the structure of this season, on the road, players are essentially on the honor system not to invite exposure into the circle of their teams. From the bubble to the honor system?
From Paul Centopani’s celebration of a 0.500 start is this perfect description of what it’s been like being a Knicks’ fan for the past decade: “The room’s pitch black. You’re blindfolded and barefoot. You need to get to the other side but the floor is covered with LEGOs. How you got into this predicament remains unclear but this is what being a Knicks fan is like.”
The NBA season is not even a month old but the award picture is already coming into focus. Here are the players who should win each award if the season ended today.