FedExForum has reversed course and will no longer require fans 12 years old or older to wear masks at Memphis Grizzlies and Tigers men’s basketball games. The change was announced Thursday and comes after the Shelby County Health Department’s latest directive on Wednesday removing the indoor mask mandate for businesses. The directive remains in effect through Nov. 30.
Tim MacMahon: Mavs G Trey Burke, who is not vaccinated, is out vs. Spurs tonight due to Covid protocols. Kristaps Porzingis will sit at least the first game of the back-to-back due to the lower back tightness that caused him to exit early in Tuesday’s win.
John Karalis: Al Horford is officially questionable to return tomorrow. Josh Richardson is probable with the migraine. Marcus Smart has some fluid in his right knee, he's also probable
Jared Weiss: Celtics announce Jaylen Brown has cleared COVID protocols but is still questionable for tomorrow’s season opener in New York as he ramps up his activity. Al Horford remains in the protocol and is out.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: This tepid kid-glove handling from players who have all gotten the vaccine appears more an attempt to preserve a congenial working relationship than true support for making asinine choices. They’re like the Real Housewives pretending they’ve got Erika Jayne’s back in her legal woes because they still have to go to dinner parties with her. Though they don’t mean to, by not strongly condemning Irving, they are signaling passive support, which is as damaging as joining him on the bench as a vaccine-denier.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: There are serious consequences to tiptoeing around what is clearly a threat to many people’s lives, especially Black lives? The last time I wrote about this topic a couple weeks ago, we had just hit 700,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. As I write this today, we’ve reached 723,754 deaths. By the time you read this, a few thousand more will have died.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Irving has made it clear—in an unclear way—that he is resisting getting vaccinated, not because he’s against the vaccine, but because he’s against mandates: “Just know that I'm rocking with all those that have lost their jobs to this mandate, and I'm rocking with all those that chose to get vaccinated and are choosing to be safe, as well. I'm on both sides of all this. I support and respect everybody's decision.” Respecting everyone’s decision sounds good—sounds so patriotic and All-American. But it’s lame logic. We don’t respect the choice of someone in an apartment building to let mold run rampant because it will make all the tenants sick. We don’t respect the choice of letting your house burn to the ground without fighting the fire because it may burn the neighbors’ houses, too.
Kellan Olson: Asked Monty Williams about the Cardinals' COVID-19 outbreak: "This thing is real. I've had family members affected by it. Early on I lost a niece. I'm on my kids about their masks in school. It's a health issue. It's not politics, it's a health issue. We gotta stay on top of it."
Karl-Anthony Towns on finding out his mom has COVID: “It was difficult because, as her son and someone who loves her so dearly, I just didn’t want to see her in pain. So I was trying to do everything possible to make her comfortable and get her better quicker. So I was doing everything in my power and she was getting worse. COVID causes a lot of swelling. And the swelling is what got my mom. And she got a blood clot on the day she was gonna get taken off the ventilator. She had pre-existing conditions too, but nothing to be worried about. So I flew in, I put the hazmat suit on and everything and I went in there. ’Cause I was like, if anyone’s gonna go see her out, I’ma see her out. I spent some hours with her and I knew it was gonna be the last time., so I was kind of working that out.”
Karl-Anthony Towns on losing 8 family members due to COVID-19 as well as contracting the virus himself: “Eight. I just lost a close one last week to COVID. Another one. I was in the hospital...because I got it during the season. And I got discharged.” - Karl-Anthony Towns
“I just got a lot to deal with, you know. Like I don’t have the time, you know, I think my time is...I look at it as like the most valuable thing I have. I’d rather waste a lot of money than waste my time. And I didn’t want to go to therapy and not be ready to talk. ’Cause then I’m just sitting there. I could bullshit my way through anything. I could give you a sense of feeling, but no feelings. If I go in there, I gotta be ready to talk.” - Karl-Anthony Towns
Jason Anderson: Kings guard Terence Davis said he had COVID-19 right before training camp and the virus hit him pretty hard for 3-4 days.
Yet team management and ownership figures across the league have voiced frustration about double standards for players like Irving, whom the NBA does not require to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, the league does require basketball and business operations staffers to be vaccinated, and they are subject to close contact with unvaccinated players.
There is a belief among ownership figures that this discrepancy could net a concession from the players' union during the next round of CBA negotiations, sources said, especially after media day was dominated by conversation about players’ vaccination statuses. The storyline has only continued casting a pall over this preseason, as the Nets announced Tuesday that they will not permit Irving to join the team until he is vaccinated.
Aaron Rose: Nick Nurse said there were no changes to the team's COVID testing after finding out that Al Horford, who the Raptors played on Saturday, tested positive. He did say, "I think you’re mostly concerned with the guys out there playing against him."
John Karalis: Boston Celtics announce Al Horford has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation
Jay King: Ime Udoka said the Celtics have been “more vigorous” about testing guys for COVID since the Jaylen Brown news and nobody else has tested positive.
Jared Weiss: Jaylen Brown tested positive for COVID-19 today, per the Celtics. Team says he is asymptomatic and quarantining.
Nets Daily: Nets have a daily reminder of COVID’s toll. For past 18 months, New York has stored HUNDREDS of corpses from the pandemic in mobile morgues across the street from HSS. Dead from COVID but unclaimed, poor, unidentified. “Right outside my window,” as one Nets staffer told me.
When Los Angeles’ new city ordinance requiring proof of vaccination to enter a wide range of indoor venues takes effect in November, those rules won’t apply at Staples Center, city and arena officials said, because a health order previously issued by the county covers the home of the NHL’s Kings and NBA’s Lakers and Clippers.
In Los Angeles, an unvaccinated Laker or Clipper could apparently still take part in home games, provided they provide proof of a negative test to comply with the county health order as it applies to Staples Center. The point could be moot for now, as both the Lakers and Clippers in recent weeks have said that their rosters are fully vaccinated, but teams often add new players throughout a season.
Ryan Wolstat: The Raptors are back! Injury report for Oct. 4 v PHI: Gary Trent Jr (left quad soreness) is QUESTIONABLE; Chris Boucher (left middle finger dislocation); Khem Birch (health and safety protocols) and Pascal Siakam (injury rehabilitation) are OUT.
Tim Bontemps: The NBA and NBPA are in the process of finalizing an agreement on COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the upcoming season, sources told ESPN.
Tim Bontemps: The impending agreement will cover the way vaccinated and unvaccinated players will be monitored, sources told ESPN. Unvaccinated players will have restrictions similar to what was in place last season, while vaccinated players largely won’t.
Tim Reynolds: The NBA has given teams a draft of the health and safety protocols for this season. As reported, unvaccinated players will be tested (almost) daily, vaccinated players will not be. Unvaxxed players will also be limited in how much they can be around vaxxed players in team areas.
Fans wanting to attend Grizzlies games this season at FedExForum must present proof of having received at least one vaccination dose, or if they are 12 and over and unvaccinated, must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at least 72 hours in advance, according to a team source on Tuesday.
Chris Grenham: Jayson Tatum says he feels like he's pretty much gotten his wind back following covid. Said he hasn't used his inhaler since last season, which is a good sign.
Gary Washburn: Udoka: "I'm feeling normal. I'm feeling regular." Said he hopes to be back tomorrow. #Celtics
Shams Charania: Nets’ Kyrie Irving will not be at Media Day today in Brooklyn due to health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Zach Lowe: Kyrie Irving is not expected to attend Nets media day today due to New York City health and safety protocols but the Nets fully expect Irving to accompany the team to training camp in San Diego, sources tell @WindhorstESPN and I.
Adam Zagoria: Kyrie Irving is expected at Nets’ media day Monday, per league sources. We’ll see how it plays out as he’s likely to face a lot of vaccination-related questions in the wake of the @RollingStone story.
Sean Cunningham: Andrew Wiggins request for religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination denied by the NBA. League statement below. pic.twitter.com/kXFGXiS8hy
A number of its players had declined to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots. The team was worried that an outbreak could derail its postseason hopes. Team executives began setting up meetings aimed at swaying the unvaccinated players. They provided data outlining the scientific benefits to them as individuals and to their families as well as information regarding the safety of the vaccine. That didn’t work.
Next, the team tried dangling the NBA’s updated and more relaxed COVID protocols, which made life easier for vaccinated players. They faced fewer tests, had fewer restrictions and, crucially, were not required to quarantine after an exposure to the virus. The unvaccinated players still didn’t budge. Finally, the team tried appealing to the players’ self-interests. There was money to be made in the postseason, it told the players, whether via playoff bonuses, contract incentives, or by flourishing under the spotlight and burnishing their respective reputations.
That pitch didn’t work, either. The team finished the season with less than 70% of its players vaccinated. "We tried everything," a staff member from that team told FOX Sports. "None of it mattered."
Now, with the 2021-22 regular season just a month away and players returning to their local markets for training camp next week, a number of NBA organizations find themselves confronting similar challenges, only with more urgency. The combination of new league protocols and more stringent local regulations could create an environment in which vaccine hesitancy becomes an issue that impacts on-court results. In other words, the final standings this season could very well be impacted by the vaccination status of players.
The NBA, according to a league spokesman, believes that around 85% of its players are currently vaccinated; National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts put the number at 90% during a July interview with Yahoo Sports. Those numbers are about 10-to-15% more than the overall rate of American adults who are vaccinated. But that still means that somewhere between 50 and 70 NBA players remain unvaccinated, an average of more than two per squad. Depending on how those players are grouped, what city they play in, and how good they are, it’s clear that any team entering the season with low vaccination rates will be at a competitive disadvantage.
One player who could be affected is Nets guard Kyrie Irving. According to multiple league sources, Irving has yet to receive a vaccine shot. Both the Nets and a spokeswoman for Irving declined to comment on the record about Irving’s vaccination status, but Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked during a news conference on Tuesday whether New York City’s mandate could sideline any of his team’s players.
It's probably not an overstatement at all to say the Washington Wizards have been affected more by the coronavirus than any other NBA team. They were the first team to experience a major outbreak last season with six of their games postponed in January. Then, star guard Bradley Beal had to exit Team USA just days before the Olympics because of a positive test. And then, during the Las Vegas Summer League, their roster was once again deeply affected by an outbreak, notably preventing point guard Cassius Winston from appearing in a game.
So, while it's a pertinent question for any professional sports team these days, the Wizards' vaccination rate arguably carries more importance as they prepare to enter a new season. Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard addressed the media on Thursday ahead of the team's training camp opening next week and was asked a series of questions about the team's vaccination efforts. He stopped short of specifics to protect players' privacy. "Everything is great. We have our roster, everybody is fully-educated and fully-informed. We will be in compliance and we're looking forward to the season," Sheppard said. "A lot of that stuff, you're getting into some personal and private information. We're not going to go down that road. But we'll be in great compliance with the NBA and moving forward."
Fans planning to head to TD Garden to watch the Bruins or Celtics this season — as well attend concerts — will need to pack a copy of their coronavirus vaccination proof or get a negative COVID-19 test.
TD Garden officials said on Wednesday that starting Sept. 30 guests 12 years old and older will need to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative rapid or PCR coronavirus test. Self-administered or over-the-counter test results will not be accepted. Officials said the timeline on tests — whether they need to have been within 24 or 72 hours of the event — is yet to be determined.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has informed teams of set coronavirus testing protocols for players for the 2021-22 season: Fully-vaccinated: No regular testing Non-fully-vaccinated: One negative test on Practice/Travel day; One negative test on Game Day.
Months after drawing an estimated 100,000 people to downtown's Deer District, the Milwaukee Bucks might revise the basketball team's development plans for sites near Fiserv Forum. That reevaluation is partly motivated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on how people live, work and play, said Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks president.
The phenomena of tens of thousands of Bucks fans during the July NBA title run filling the Deer District plaza, and overflow sites destined for future development, is playing a role in the reevaluation, he said. Among the guiding principles, Feigin said, is how the Bucks "can create a safe, fun meeting place for the state of Wisconsin." Almost 500 COVID-19 cases were later linked to fans who attended Deer District watch parties or a game during the NBA title run.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA will return to normal team bench seating for the 2021-22 season, with teams no longer requiring cool down/timeout chairs or assigned seats. Game day personnel are currently expected to be required to wear facemasks at start of season.
The NBA informed teams Friday that all personnel under team control who work within 15 feet of players or referees during games will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. The directive specifically includes coaches, front-office members and trainers but stops short of requiring all players to be vaccinated.
Shams Charania: Sources: Any NBA team, arena and personnel whose role involves interactions with players and referees will be required to be fully vaccinated to have in-person interactions for the 2021-22 season — including coaches, front office and medical/equipment staff.
Memphis basketball assistant coach Larry Brown contracted the delta variant of COVID-19 following the 2021 Nike EYBL Peach Jam Basketball Tournament last month. Brown disclosed the news during an appearance on the Jason and John Show on 92.9 FM ESPN Friday.
"Unfortunately I got sick, right after it was over, I got that delta variant, and I was kind of out for about 10 to 12 days, but I'm all good now and you know anxious to get back," Brown said. Brown, 80, is vaccinated and said he has made a full recovery.
Harrison Wind: Zeke Nnaji, rookie Bones Hyland and Markus Howard are among the Nuggets who won't play tonight at Summer League due to health and safety protocols, a source told DNVR. Bol Bol will play, and the 7-2 big man will be at the center of Denver's game plan. thednvr.com/what-to-watch-…
Chris Mannix: Wizards-Pacers summer league game has been postponed due to health and safety protocols, sources told @SInow.
Scott Agness: Pacers’ first summer league game, against the Wizards, has been postponed due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Wizards do not have enough players available due to contract tracing.
The Washington Wizards added the following players to their Summer League roster today: Cheick Diallo, Asante Gist and Derrick Walton Jr. In addition, guards Cassius Winston and Issuf Sanon and forward Isaiah Todd have entered the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Jeremy Lin has tested positive for Covid-19 and is receiving treatment in Shanghai, the former NBA guard and first Asian-American to win an NBA title said in a social media post Saturday. Lin announced in June he was rejoining the Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks after a failed NBA comeback. He tested positive for coronavirus on his third day in quarantine after flying to Shanghai from San Francisco, the 32-year-old posted on Chinese social network Weibo. "I was shocked and a little bewildered," he wrote of his initial reaction to the diagnosis.
Nearly 500 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in people who congregated in Milwaukee's Deer District to cheer on the Milwaukee Bucks during the NBA playoffs last month. At least 491 cases have arisen from people who "self-declared" they attended a Deer District gathering at some point during the month of July, according to Milwaukee Health Department spokesperson Emily Tau.
Jason Jones: Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement as a condition of employment for full-time and part-time team members by November 1.
The state Department of Health Services reported that 491 people with confirmed or probable cases said they had attended the Deer District or Bucks game "during their exposure or infectious periods" but the department could not say definitively that they caught the virus while viewing the game downtown or elsewhere. The department also said the figure was likely an undercount. "We anticipated an increase in positive cases due to the delta variant but 155% increase in one week is distressing,"Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.
Michael Singer: #Nuggets cancel their first Summer League practice due to health and safety protocols, team announces.
Rockets coach Stephen Silas was unable to attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team's draft picks because he is in NBA health and safety protocols. Silas said he has “very minor symptoms” and that he is fully vaccinated for COVID. NBA protocols require coaches, players and staff to isolate if they have been in contact with individuals that tested positive.
The year couldn’t have gone worse for Ziaire Williams during his time at Stanford. He lost several family members to COVID-19. His team was not able to practice or play at their home facility to pandemic-related restrictions. He was essentially living fully in hotels for the first few months of the season and there was no sense of normalcy.
According to one prospect who recently spoke to For The Win, due to COVID-19 restrictions, those not invited to the green room are not allowed to come to the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner as they have been in years past. Regardless of who is actually in the building, however, it is certain to be an exciting and life-changing night for the next generation of NBA talent. Based on conversations I’ve had with scouts around the league, and from reports and tea leaves left in other mock drafts from trusted draftniks, below is how I project the events will unfold at Barclays Center and on ESPN and ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET on July 29.
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety player protocols for 2021 Summer League in Las Vegas:
Gerald Bourguet: Thanasis Antetokounmpo remains out for Game 6 due to health and safety protocols. No one new on the Suns' or Bucks' injury reports otherwise
Adrian Wojnarowski: Bucks assistant Josh Oppenheimer won’t be on bench for Game 5, sources tell @malika_andrews and me.
Adrian Wojnarowski: This will be the third consecutive game that Oppenheimer has been away from Milwaukee’s bench, sources tell @malika_andrews and me.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Oppenheimer has been in contact tracing and there’s hope he could be back on bench for Game 6 on Tuesday, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: Mike Budenholzer says the Bucks will not have a full staff available for tonight’s game in the wake of Thanasis Antetokounmpo entering the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols this afternoon ahead of tonight’s Game 5.
Tatum scored 31 points and Boston took its turn pounding Miami early, jumping out to a 26-4 lead and cruising to a 102-82 victory that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece. “Obviously, we knew how important this game was,” Tatum said. “Everybody just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”
ESPN Stats: Points Scored in Game 4: All Heat starters — 18 Victor Oladipo — 23 This is the very first playoff game that an entire starting lineup was outscored by a player from its bench (since starters were first tracked in 1970-71).
Zach Kram: Re NBA blowouts: 18% of games this postseason have been decided by 25+ points. The record is 23% in 2016. But we remember the 2016 playoffs as amazing because of GSW-OKC and CLE-GSW. A few remarkable moments and series can make up for other blowouts across the board.