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It was just good, Silver said, to be back in the same place together. "There aren't that many places, even pre-pandemic, where people gather in the way they do in arenas, come together for a common purpose ... and literally breathe each other's air," he said. "I think that's part of the human connection. I really do miss that."
FOR SOME, LIKE Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Richardson, the past 16 months are probably best forgotten. "I mean, I got COVID twice," Richardson says. "I'm hoping that this is just a memory that we look back on a few years and like, 'Oh yeah, that was crazy.'" But then he caught himself.
Richardson says he didn't have any symptoms the first time and quarantined at his house -- with his dog, Champ -- for 25 days. "That was before we knew anything about it," he says. "We didn't even test every day, so it could've been a false positive. But I was scared. I didn't want to give it to anyone else." He also didn't want to talk about it publicly. "At the beginning, people would look at you funny," he says. "Like you had the plague."
EVERY COACH IN the league had to find a way to talk to players about everything they'd be signing up for this season. From daily testing -- which was more like three times a day during the height of the surge in January -- to the lack of personal freedom on the road to restrictions on how many family members and friends they could see. "We actually talked to the team about [the safety protocols] many times during the season," Kerr says. "'Yeah, this sucks, but you really have to put it in perspective and remember how fortunate we are to be working."
There were no fans in arenas for the first few months. Some teams covered the empty seats; others put up cardboard cutouts. Everyone played music and piped in fake crowd noise to try to distract from the silence. But that was almost worse, Kerr says. "It was almost like laugh tracks in a sitcom," he says. "You could tell it was a little fake, and the timing would be just off. Somebody makes a great play and the reaction is a split-second late."
John Karalis: USA basketball announces Bradley Beal will miss the Olympics due to the health and safety protocols. Jerami Grant is now also in the protocol "out of an abundance of caution"
Shams Charania: Team USA's Jerami Grant has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, sources tell me and @joevardon . Grant has not tested positive for coronavirus. He and Bradley Beal are in protocols in Las Vegas.
Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said. USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo.
Shams Charania: Wizards star Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, placing his return to play status up in the air, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon.
The Milwaukee Health Department will have COVID-19 vaccines available at Fiserv Forum Plaza on Wednesday, July 14 ahead of Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Fans who receive their vaccination will be entered to win two tickets to that night’s game, donated by the Milwaukee Bucks.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league's ability to get over a million fans back into attendance during the playoffs has helped the league stem its financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We did somewhat better than we initially projected," Silver said Tuesday before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. "We don't have the exact numbers yet, but maybe we'll be down roughly a third in revenue, something around there, instead of 40 percent."
The Celtics led the NBA in one category this season: Games lost by players due to to Covid-19 precautions and infections. And teams around the league seemingly noticed. During a recent segment on NBC Sports Boston (captured by OMF), longtime NBA reporter Chris Mannix revealed the Washington Wizards went as far as to complain to the league office about the behavior of some Celtics players. Washington endured one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks all season, with seven players testing positive for the virus over a four-day period in mid-January. The Wizards played the Celtics Jan. 8, and apparently blamed them.
“The Celtics were among the teams that I know of that didn’t take Covid seriously,” Mannix said. “They continued to go out on the road, and would find ways to skirt the rules at times when they were traveling. They didn’t take these protocols seriously — not as seriously as some other teams did. Washington, when they had all of their Covid issues back in January and early February, they blamed Boston. They complained to the league that the Celtics, because of what they had heard about players going out in Florida I believe it was, they believed they contracted their issues through the Celtics.”
Gabriel Deck tested positive for coronavirus, the Argentina Basketball Confederation announced Friday. Deck, 26, has been retested ahead of the planned trip of the senior Argentina national team to Las Vegas. The results of the second test are pending. He will rejoin the national team training camp once he is cleared, assuming the second test confirms he contracted COVID-19. In the meantime, he remains isolated. He is asymptomatic and in very good health, as noted by the CABB.
John Stockton is trying to assist … the anti-vax community. The NBA Hall of Famer appeared in an anti-vaccine documentary. In the cameo, the former Utah Jazz point guard brags about his alleged knowledge of COVID-19. “This isn’t a virus cheating us of this opportunity,” Stockton said in one clip. “It’s the guys making decisions saying, ‘No, no we’re too scared. We’re going to shut everything down. Sit in your house and be careful.’ My kids and grandkids hearing these things and accepting them as truth when I know by my significant amount of research that it isn’t, it’s very frustrating.”
“One of the things that sticks in my head is losing someone like Steph Curry to basketball would be a crime,” Stockton said. “I just think what a disappointment to this world it would be if that guy didn’t become who he is. So I wonder who we are missing out on right now.”
Tim Reynolds: Suns say they will update Chris Paul's protocols situation on Saturday. Earliest Game 1 of the West finals is Sunday.
Clutch Points App: Jalen Rose says Chris Paul has been vaccinated. Hopefully that means he won't miss too much time after entering the NBA health and safety protocol

http://twitter.com/ClutchPointsApp/status/1405169850436173826
On a Saturday afternoon in mid-April, a few weeks after he was traded to the Nuggets, Aaron Gordon sat in the hotel room he was temporarily living out of and reflected on the most challenging season NBA players had ever dealt with. While bouncing around the country as a deadly transmittable virus continued to spread, players had been contending with health and safety protocols that induced isolation, obliterated daily routines and separated them from partners, children, friends and family. Novel stressors had been stacked on top of the countless professional and personal reasons players might feel anxious during any typical season.
Meanwhile, their bodies were being ground down by the compressed 72-game schedule. The physical injuries potentially caused by such a grueling endeavor have received ample attention; no shortage of media hands have been wrung over Kevin Durant’s strained hamstring, LeBron James’s high ankle sprain or Jamal Murray’s torn ACL. But comparatively little notice has been paid to an unseen element of players’ well-being, one affected as much if not more by this season’s atypically harsh conditions: mental health. “Although we have special gifts and talents that make us seem more than human, at the end of the day we’re just people,” Gordon says. “With the same struggles and the same sufferings, the same day-to-day anxieties and insecurities that the rest of the world is going through.”
As Gordon sat in his hotel room, the trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd was days away from reaching a verdict, after weeks of heartbreaking testimony from eyewitnesses and Floyd’s loved ones. All season—and long before it began—relentless signs of racial inequality were “a constant strain on my mental health,” Gordon said. “I’m employed by the NBA. My job is to come out and compete and help my team win. But there’s just certain things that you can’t get out of your mind. It’s another reason why I do all of this mental health and mental training, because of how unfairly America treats Black men and Black women. And we’re still expected to come out, compete and act as if it’s not happening. It’s strenuous. Daily.”
NBA players are not a monolith, making it impossible to know precisely how mental health has affected their ability to perform this year. And there are innumerable variables that go into any game’s final score, with mental health being just one. But it’s also impossible to imagine a scenario where some thoughts and emotions felt off the floor would not carry over onto it. This was a season, after all, that featured notably uneven play: For most of this year, particularly after the All-Star break, the percentage of games that ended in a blowout was dramatically higher than usual.
Largely thanks to the need for teams and the league to preserve privacy, there is no available data on whether more players have taken advantage of mental health resources or whether they have experienced mental illness in greater numbers this season (according to a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association in November, 74% of psychologists reported seeing more patients with anxiety disorders compared to before the pandemic; 60% said the same for depression disorders). Anecdotally, though, in interviews with psychologists, psychiatrists and licensed mental health professionals who have experience treating NBA players, all agree that the need for help has swelled.
“The normal pressures that every player has had to contend with have been increasing in proportions that frighten me, frankly,” says Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). She adds that more players have called her about mental health resources in the past eight months than in her previous seven years on the job. “They’re expected to go out two or three times a week, perform at the highest level, and at the same time be husbands, fathers, boyfriends, sons, and on top of that deal with normal consequences of living in a pandemic. … We as a community don’t allow athletes the space to be vulnerable, and that’s wrong. They have as much right to be vulnerable as the rest of us. And in some ways, unlike many of us, they’ve got more reasons to be vulnerable.”
Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra, on being allowed to work the sidelines without a mask, "It feels like in so many ways, there's just been these incremental steps back to normalcy. And then, all of a sudden, and even in the last 24 hours, it just feels like there've been some big moves.
Just in time for the playoffs, the NBA told its head coaches Saturday they may work without masks during games if they have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Assistant coaches and players will still be required to wear masks in the bench area. Head coaches may choose to go without masks after pre-game introductions through halftime, then again after halftime until the game concludes.
Adrian Wojnarowski: LeBron James won't be suspended for protocols violation, sources tell ESPN. Nature of event didn't rise to a threat level of virus spread, as described in @McTen 's story below. Suns-Lakers Game 1 on Sunday.
Shams Charania: Fully-vaccinated NBA head coaches are no longer required to wear facemasks when coaching games, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. This is in light of vaccination rates among coaches and recent CDC guidance.
Meanwhile, as cities across the country ease restrictions on movement and gathering as the number of vaccinations for COVID-19 increases, Silver stopped short of committing to completely full arenas by the time the NBA Finals roll around in July. And while seats around the court will remain in fewer numbers than normal, he expressed confidence that there will be far more fans than he expected in the seats as the playoffs move along. "I think it's very possible that come July, when our Finals will be, you'll see essentially full buildings," said Silver, who added that "close to 80%" of all NBA players have had COVID-19 vaccinations.
Ryan Russillo: I know everybody can kind of look at certain elements of the season where it was challenging, but what happened to you guys you think? Nick Nurse: Well, I think that there were a number of hurdles to jump, you know, right from the start with relocating everyone. A bit of a roster flip. You know, we lost a couple of very experienced, very good pieces to free agency in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. And then you know, I think it was bumpy to get through. We started playing really well, Ryan. I think we won two at Brooklyn, we won two at Milwaukee, we came back and beat Philly at home (...) We were in fourth in the East and then we got wiped out by COVID and the protocols. I think, seven players and seven staff and then a couple more players a little later, and that would take a lot longer than the 14-day kind of sit out. We just didn't feel quite right, myself included. And then, and then we had a month that was just like... we were almost wiped off, and we just never really recovered.
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Brother Pau Gasol recently spoke with Spanish newspaper Marca, and the topic of Marc’s future came up. “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides. I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.“
Throughout his stellar NBA career, Bryant made a name for himself through his countless ways of scoring the basketball. For Grant, barring injuries, Hardaway would’ve also become as dominant as Bryant as he also had that in him during his playing years. “Without a doubt,” the four-time NBA champ said when asked if Hardaway could’ve also enjoyed his career like Bryant did. “I’m talking about 6’7”, 6’8” can see the floor, three-pointers, drive to the basket, assists, you name it. All-around game.”
The Lakers star’s latest appearance on the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast was eye-opening in that Melo revealed an ominous threat made against him by former NBA commissioner David Stern. This was following Anthony’s 15-game suspension back in 2006 for an in-arena brawl that broke out between his Denver Nuggets and his future team the New York Knicks. “‘I know who you with. I know where you live at,” the Lakers star claimed Stern said to him about his group of friends. ‘I know where they live at. I know when you close your eyes. I know when you wake up. And I know what they doin,’ he’s telling me.” “And I’m like damn, how the f—? That’s when I knew NBA was part of the feds. He told me, ‘I gotta make an example out of you.’ That’s a fact. He said, ‘I know everything. I know your whole crew. I know who’s doing what.’
NBA superstar Anthony Davis tied the knot with his longtime partner, Marlen P, and celebrities from across the entertainment spectrum came out to celebrate the event. Among the invited guests were Davis’ Lakers teammates LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and multiple Grammy award winning singer Adele.