Within all of that, there was always going to be skepticism from the public that — whether it was the NBA or other pro sports leagues — the wealthy were going to jump the line (with the vaccine). I almost feel like it would make people feel good to know that someone who is guiding a lot of the protocol with the NBA is not a hired gun who only focuses on their priorities, if that makes sense. Dr. Leroy Sims: It does make sense, and what we’re doing on the NBA side is exactly what you indicated. We’re respecting public health guidelines, seeing what the CDC says and following what states and local governments and departments of health recommend. So to your point, we are not jumping the line. We are not looking to get ahead of anyone. What we’re doing is making sure that the essential and frontline workers have access to the vaccine, that people who are — from a health point of view — the most vulnerable, they have access to the vaccine. We don’t want to be in a position where we’re taking vaccines away from ER doctors or people who live in nursing homes or people with chronic medical conditions. We understand that and respect that. When the question does come up — when can we get vaccinated? — and I lay out the information about how the distribution is working right now, people go, “Yeah, I understand that.”
As a white man who has learned more and more on this front, I wonder if you think the players’ concerns are born out of the specific history here or is it also a generational thing where guys’ parents told them to be careful with the medical community (without the cultural context)? Dr. Leroy Sims: All those things are in play, Sam, because you have people who do know the history. These are some very well-read and savvy guys. They know the history. But also, they live in some of these communities, or come from some of these communities, and have seen the impacts up close and personal and have lived it. So there’s that piece that can’t be overlooked, that there is a familiarity with what’s happening. And it’s a beautiful thing that our guys stay in touch with the community. And they’re role models. And it is for that reason that we do want to partner with our players. We do want their support. We do want them to be spokesmen regarding this vaccine, and even though they can’t get vaccinated right now, we hope that they’ll lend support to family members who may be eligible to get vaccinated. So that’s one of the calls that I have: Can you all support us that way? And hopefully, when it’s your turn and we can vaccinate you, you’ll get vaccinated as well.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks partnered with a provider to distribute at-home FDA-approved saliva COVID-19 PCR tests to fans who buy tickets for Knicks games at MSG in Feb. It will be overnighted upon request, to fulfill requirement of a PCR test no more than 72 hours before a Knicks game at MSG. pic.twitter.com/szI8cnlVIj
Shams Charania: In announcing All-Star events on March 7, the NBA and NBPA will commit more than $2.5 million in funds and resources toward HBCUs and provide additional support and awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 care, relief and vaccines.
Stefan Bondy: Knicks announce they’re selling tickets now for between $50 and $380. You need proof of a negative CoViD test to get in. Test has to be within 72 hours of the game.
According to ManGamesLost.com, a subscription website that tracks injuries (including illnesses, like COVID-19) across all major sports, the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers are the two most-injured teams over the last three seasons, in a virtual, statistical tie. The website’s data runs through games played on Monday. So from October of 2018 through Feb. 15, the Bulls’ players had missed 605 games to 604 for Cavs players. Due to the pandemic and the general flow of a schedule in an ongoing season, the two teams haven’t played the same amount of games on their schedules.
The Cavaliers are partnered medically with the Cleveland Clinic, consistently ranked among the finest hospitals in the world. That’s not to say doctors never make mistakes, but there aren’t exactly any league whispers about the Cavs needing to cut ties there. One agent who represents players on the Cavs, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the organization does “a very good job” managing players’ health. “They are very transparent, very thorough,” he said.
Ky Carlin: Doc Rivers confirms that Ben Simmons does not have COVID. He’s just out with the flu. He asked me not to mention COVID anymore. He said it’s a dirty word. #Sixers
Shams Charania: Sources: Five new NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 454 in the last week.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Dr. Sims told ESPN on Wednesday: “I’ve tried to tackle misinformation….These guys look at data all the time. I know they get the data, and appeal to them at that level.”
The NBA's outreach to the agents of many of the league's elite players -- with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine -- has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehension about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.
Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players' reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game.
On a call with league general managers on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver continued to tell top team executives that the league wouldn't "jump the line" of the general public to get vaccines, but he suggested an optimistic timeline that included the possibility of late March and early April for the start of player vaccinations, sources said. Nevertheless, that's considered a fluid timeline, largely meant to reaffirm to teams the need to be prepared for whenever the opportunity to vaccinate players comes from public health officials, sources said.
Michael Singer: Michael Malone said to this point, none of his players have expressed any lingering effects of COVID cases. Asked him that question following Jayson Tatum’s admission that he doesn’t have the same stamina after his case.
Shams Charania: The NBA plans to hold the 3-point competition and Skills Challenge in pregame of the March 7 All-Star Game in Atlanta, and the Dunk Contest at halftime of game, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Tom Orsborn: Pop: "We all have to continue being meticulous about doing everything that needs done. (COVID-19) is still here, and we are not even close to done with it, so we are trying to really tell our team to bear down every day - every day - and do everything we are told to do.”
Anthony Chiang: Tyler Herro said he was told right before Thursday's game that he tested positive and could not play against the Rockets. But it turned out to be a false positive, and subsequent negative tests allowed him to travel with the team to Salt Lake City.
Ira Winderman: Tyler Herro, on watching game in Houston, while awaiting test results, "I felt like I was in jail." He said room had a small TV, but it also had a shower, so he was able to shower after warming up.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is back after his bout with COVID-19, but the virus is still having an impact on him mentally. Shortly before tipoff of the Timberwolves’ game against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, the Hornets scratched P.J. Washington due to health and safety protocols. The scratch came when the Timberwolves were warming up, and Towns admitted that he was left shaken by it.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on the approach to this COVID rodeo road trip vs. previous ones: "It’s the same, it’s just more boring because you basically can’t leave your room...But as we all keep telling ourselves, we’ve got it pretty easy compared to a whole lot of people out there. So, not to worry or complain."
Rick Bonnell: BREAKING: Hornets forward P.J. Washington is OUT tonight vs. Timberwolves for health-and-safety protocols.
Rick Bonnell: BREAKING: Hornets Cody and Caleb Martin will both miss tonight’s game — health and safety protocols. Story coming
Marc Stein: Kevin Durant is back and fully available for the Nets' game Saturday night at Golden State, Steve Nash says. The Warriors are planning two tribute videos for Kevin Durant ... one Saturday night when Durant makes his on-court return to the Bay Area and another next season when fans are back at Chase Center
Ira Winderman: Per Heat: Tyler Herro accompanied the team to Salt Lake City last night for tomorrow night's game vs the Jazz and is no longer in the NBA's health and safety protocols.
Ian Begley: Frank Ntilikina continues to test negative for COVID but didn’t travel with Knicks to Washington DC for Friday’s game vs. Wizards, per source. Ntilikina didn’t play Tuesday as he’s subject to contact tracing after being in proximity to someone outside of NYK who tested positive.
The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday that they will finish the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. Because of ongoing border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mindful of public safety measures in Canada, the team has decided they will continue to play their home games at Amalie Arena.
“Florida has been really welcoming to us and we’re so grateful for the hospitality we’ve found in Tampa and at Amalie – we’re living in a city of champions, and we intend to carry on the tradition of winning for our new friends and fans here,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto. We think often of our fans, of our Scotiabank Arena family, and all those we are missing back home, and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.”
Towns didn’t go into specific details about the symptoms he experienced or the exact underlying conditions to which he was referring, but he described an experience that was harrowing and, at times, frightening. As hard as it was on his body, Towns said it may have been even harder on his mind. The long nights, the loneliness of isolation and knowing his mother was no longer there to help him through it. “There’s things I haven’t dealt with and still grieving and stuff that I have to deal with now in silence with no one around to help me with that process,” he said. “Mental health is real and it’s very, very real and I’ve dealt with it my whole life and I’m glad that I had my mother with me, because she always just knew how to heal me and that mental aspect. Obviously with her not here, it’s even more challenging, but she gave me a lot of tools, so I just utilize them as best I could.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Karl-Anthony Towns: "Getting COVID stopped everything...I am a high-risk case. COVID did not treat me well whatsoever. A lot of scary nights." He told his sister he got a bad version of COVID and had "a lot of it in me..A lot of long nights and the vitals weren't good (at times)"
Ohm Youngmisuk: KAT: "Everyone is different. My underlying conditions did not play in my favor with COVID... I am the most genetically close to my mother...nothing was playing in my favor.. mental health is very real. I have dealt with it my whole life and my mother always knew how to heal me."
Ohm Youngmisuk: KAT: "I feel very guilty about the treatment I got [that] I [wish was] more widely available to anyone in the world. I feel very guilty... there is such mental strain through all this time. A feeling of guilt because of the resources I have. I wish I could (share) the resources."
Melissa Rohlin: Karl Anthony-Towns described his harrowing experience with COVID: "You get to a point where you feel like you're never going to see the court again."
Mark Medina: Karl-Anthony Towns: "People complain about wearing a mask and these frontline workers are in with people dying and you can't wear one? Stop it."
Eric Woodyard: Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer says he's been in contact with Jrue Holiday over the last few days. "He's in a good place," Budenholzer said. "He's taking care of himself, but has an eye on the team, too. I think wants these guys to continue to push."
Mark Medina: Timberwolves officially clear Karl-Anthony Towns to start tonight against the Clippers
Brian Lewis: Abbamondi: "For the remainder of the season we're donating a portion of ticket proceeds to support vaccination efforts in Brooklyn. We'd also like to thank our fans for their support this season and we are looking forward to bringing their energy back to Barclays Center!” #Nets
Shams Charania: One new NBA player tested positive for coronavirus out of 470 tested since Feb. 3, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: After recovering from COVID-19 and missing the past 13 games, Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to return tonight vs. the Clippers, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Malika Andrews: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that sports venue can re-open at 10 percent capacity on Feb. 23. Fans must return a negative PCR test within 72 hours of an event. Masks and social distancing will be required, along with temperature checks.
Eric Nehm: Jrue Holiday is listed as OUT (Health and Safety Protocols) on the NBA's injury report for tonight's game against the Suns. Bucks are supposed to have shootaround in Phoenix in about an hour. We will be given one player for media availability afterwards.
However, during his postgame news conference, teammate Khris Middleton indicated Holiday might have tested positive for COVID-19. “You definitely think about it, especially for Jrue,” Middleton said. “It’s nothing to play around with. And once he tested positive, you immediately think about his health, his safety and then his family back home. He has little kids too that he has to worry about. So, I think that was a huge part of what was going through my mind before the game. Just thinking about him and his family back home.”
Budenholzer said he believed the game’s status was never in doubt, but Lopez was far less confident. “I wasn’t sure obviously,” Lopez said. “I took my pregame nap and I wasn’t sure if I was going to wake up and there was going to be a text like, ‘Oh. No game tonight. Pack up.’ or ‘We’re staying.’ or whatever it was.”
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo shared a similar sentiment as Lopez, he woke up from his nap and found out the game was still going to be played. “I think you always just have to be prepared in thinking about what you can do if somebody’s not able to go,” Budenholzer said. “Just proud of the guys. That’s a good win on the road against a really good team. Different guys stepped up and played well. It’s not easy, but proud of our guys. It was a good win.”
League officials want this, in large part, because they believe the fans, the Turner folks and the players want it too (contrary to popular belief). Of course, money is the primary motivating factor — no one is denying that. But safety, league sources say, is being prioritized in the kind of way that should make it all possible without putting players in harm’s way.
Sources say league officials are very confident they can pull it off safely because the restrictions for players are expected to be extreme and the timeline will be drastically condensed. And any player who thinks this will be anything remotely resembling the annual All-Star gala, with nonstop appearances and parties throughout the weekend before the game finally arrives on Sunday, is in for a rude awakening.
As one person with knowledge of the situation put it, “It’s basically going to be a mini-bubble.” And therein lies the irony: For all the focus on the possible dangers that could come with holding an All-Star game, the league’s belief is that the players who come will likely be better off than the many who are expected to squeeze in getaways during the short break. According to an ESPN report, player travel during the break is limited to the United States (including Hawaii), the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Sources tell The Athletic that the medical protocol that still has to be agreed upon by the NBA and the NBPA is being finalized, but the following is expected to be part of the plan. A quick timeline: Players would come into Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and evening and be gone by Sunday night. Private transportation required: Flights, cars, all of the above. Players would only be permitted to be at the hotel or State Farm Arena, with no exceptions made for other locations. The notion of fans being at the game appears likely, especially considering the Hawks have already been permitting 1,000 people to their home games. Sources say it’s not expected to be many, but a number is not clear. Considering the contrast to the Orlando bubble, where there were no fans and any ‘Tier 2’ attendees who hadn’t undergone quarantines and daily testing were seated far above the floor, this is where any comparison to that set-up potentially falls flat.
In the Mavericks’ respective cases, Richardson, Finney-Smith and Powell haven’t offered much detail about their COVID plights. After Saturday’s win over Golden State, Kleber in his first public comments in four weeks gave a stark description of playing games post-COVID. “Being sick at home obviously is not fun, especially when your guys are playing,” he said. “That was not fun.”
Maxi Kleber: “I’ve got to be honest: Coming back from that, and when you’re sitting at home for more than 20 days, it really hurts the first couple of practices. The games, your legs are heavy. You feel slow. I still feel slow. I hope that me and all the guys that had to sit out that long get back in shape and get to moving again. Because if you rest that long, it can take some time.”
Troy Brown: When they told me that I tested positive, I wasn’t surprised. I had already started quarantining, so it wasn’t a shock; the positive test just confirmed my suspicions. I’ve taken COVID very seriously and been very safe since this all started, but I still got it. When I got the news, I wasn’t too scared. I don't know if I’ll have any long-term issues that are related to COVID, but I try not to worry about that since it’s out of my control. My mindset is this: It happened and I can't do anything about it, so I’m just trying to stay as positive as I can, live day-by-day and not worry. Once I was quarantined, I was just resting every day. I played a lot of Call of Duty and NBA 2K (I’m a big fan of MyCareer mode). I played with my dogs a lot (I have a Pomeranian and a Shih Tzu Poodle). I did a lot of cleaning. I was watching a lot of basketball too -- from highlights to different games on League Pass.
Troy Brown: I definitely feel safe in our work environment. They deep clean the facility and we’re always wearing masks and social distancing. In every corner of our facility, there are free masks available and they make sure we’re always wearing one. They’ve changed a number of things for safety reasons. For instance, we’re not allowed to eat on the airplane anymore unless the flight is three hours or longer (or something like that). That way, we keep our masks on for the duration of the flight. They added a bunch of rules like that in an effort to minimize risk. Our coaches and staff in Washington have been incredible; they are definitely prioritizing our health.
Dane Moore: After missing the past 12 games in Health and Safety protocols, Karl-Anthony Towns has been upgraded to "doubtful" for tomorrow night's game in Dallas. Moving in the right direction... I guess?
Duane Rankin: "It's just a lot to handle. The players want to play. The league wants to keep everybody safe and keep the league going. It's not going to be perfect." Monty Williams on seeing Brooklyn star Kevin Durant pulled during Friday's game due to #NBA health and safety protocols. #Suns pic.twitter.com/HUQZ9R00nX
Duane Rankin: "I'm thankful we'll have fans, but I'm also pleased to see this act of kindness towards this group of people." Monty Williams on #Suns playing first home game this season with fans as franchise provided free tickets for healthcare workers to see today's noon game vs. #Celtics. pic.twitter.com/a5HdZCpVbN
The Jump: Per @Adrian Wojnarowski: The league will not fine KD for his tweets from last night. #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #BrooklynTogether
Malika Andrews: All of the Nets players and staff continue to test negative for COVID-19 -- including after last night's game against Toronto -- sources tell ESPN.
Malika Andrews: Yesterday, Durant drove with a team employee three separate times to the team practice facility for testing, home from testing and to the arena for the game, sources tell ESPN. Durant and the employee did not appear to be wearing masks. As a result, sources told ESPN, it was decided that Durant needed to quarantine despite continuing to test negative.
Brian Lewis: Nash said the individual that Kevin Durant came in contact with that tested positive for COVID-19 is not the same person that caused his last contact tracing quarantine. Adds he trusts KD’s judgment, and all his players. #Nets
April 21, 2021 | 3:08 am EDT Update
Ohm Youngmisuk: DeMarcus Cousins has no time for PG hate: “We gotta stop the PG slander. It just won’t be accepted around me. He’s one of the most gifted players in this league and every chance I get, I’m gonna give him his flowers.”
StatMuse: The Clippers are 17-5 since the All-Star break. 1st in win percentage 1st in offensive rating 1st in 3P% 2nd in net rating 4th in FG% 5th in defensive rating The hottest team in the NBA right now.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Paul George on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’re getting flashes of vintage Boogie… what will be most impressive about his game is that he automatically draws double teams. He’s instant offense for us, dump the ball down there for him and he’s a playmaker.”
Eric Nehm: A league source has confirmed @Jim Owczarski’s earlier reporting to The Athletic. Mamadi Diakite has grabbed the Bucks’ 15th roster spot on a multi-year deal and the Bucks signed Justin Jackson to fill his two-way spot. Their roster is full at 17 players (15 + 2 two-way deals).
Kyrie Irving capped a 32-point performance with a tough turnaround jumper, a driving layup through converging defenders and four free throws in the final minute, and the Brooklyn Nets held on for a 134-129 victory over the reeling New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. “Obviously, when Kyrie does his thing and hits tough shots like that, it truly saves us,” said Nets forward Blake Griffin, who had 16 points and eight rebounds in a reserve role. “But I thought overall we did a better job of just trying to like, do it by committee, moving off the ball and not settling.”
Williamson, who was debuting his own Jordan brand basketball shoe, scored 33 points, mostly on strong moves in the paint that produced dunks and contested layups. Brandon Ingram added 27 points for the Pelicans, who fell four games behind Golden State and San Antonio for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference with 14 games left in the regular season. “I’m not going to lie,” Williamson said. “It does get kind of annoying to sit up here every other game saying we’re right there and we’re not closing out. So, I think we’ve got to focus on some of those small things. I say it over and over, but until we do it, some of those outcomes aren’t going to change.”
Scott Kushner: Zion says the players “take the blame” on this one. Said SVG told them they were a bit lifeless at times on the bench. Says it’s “annoying” to keep revisiting explanations about how close they are.