Spurs forward Keldon Johnson’s assessment of his bout with the COVID-19 virus is the stuff of a surgeon general’s warning. “I would say it sucked,” Johnson said. Having returned to the court after a 15-day layoff because of the coronavirus and its aftereffects, Johnson is glad to report he is feeling better now. “I am doing amazing,” Johnson said before Thursday’s game against Oklahoma City. “Couldn’t feel any better.”
For Johnson — a 21-year-old coach Gregg Popovich once likened to a “wild mustang” — it meant an even more arduous path through the NBA’s health and safety protocols. “The first day was probably the worst day,” Johnson said. “I felt a little weak, had a little headache. I stayed in bed all day.”
As far as surprises go, Johnson’s selection to the Rising Stars roster was more pleasant than his COVID-19 diagnosis. “We were definitely surprised,” Johnson said. “It just happens. We take so many protocols to avoid COVID, and to have so many players come up with it, it sucked.” Johnson and the other infected players formed a sort of support group during their time in quarantine. “We definitely stayed in touch,” Johnson said. “Everybody called and checked on me and made sure I was all good. We were in each other’s corner.”
Sanford Health will conduct on-site COVID-19 testing of players, coaches and staff for this weekend’s NBA All-Star 2021 events in Atlanta. The event features players from the NBA competing in the Skills Competition, 3-Point Contest, Slam Dunk Contest and All-Star Game. Sanford Health lab techs will travel to Atlanta in one of the mobile testing units that was used for PGA TOUR testing. Sanford Health estimates it will run between 500-750 tests for the event. The time it takes to collect and process the tests is generally 90 minutes.
Duane Rankin: #Suns injury report vs. Warriors. Cameron Johnson (health and safety protocols) OUT
Heart inflammation is uncommon in pro athletes who’ve had mostly mild COVID-19 and most don’t need to be sidelined, a study conducted by major professional sports leagues suggests.
The results are not definitive, outside experts say, and more independent research is needed. But the study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology is the largest to examine the potential problem. The coronavirus can cause inflammation in many organs, including the heart.
The research involved professional athletes who play football, hockey, soccer, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball. All tested positive for COVID-19 before October and were given guideline-recommended heart tests, nearly 800 total. None had severe COVID-19 and 40% had few or no symptoms — what might be expected from a group of healthy elite athletes with an average age of 25. Severe COVID-19 is more common in older people and those with chronic health conditions.
Almost 4% had abnormal results on heart tests done after they recovered but subsequent MRI exams found heart inflammation in less than 1% of the athletes. These five athletes all had COVID-19 symptoms. Whether their heart problems were caused by the virus is unknown although the researchers think that is likely. They were sidelined for about three months and returned to play without any problems, said Dr. Mathew Martinez of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He’s the study’s lead author and team cardiologist for football’s New York Jets.
Marc Stein: As part of the NBA’s attempts to create a two-day Atlanta bubble, All-Star regulations call for all participants, guests and those granted access to the official league hotel to be checked in by 7 PM Saturday and to stay at the hotel until Sunday's game, sources tell @NYTSports.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Seven new positive NBA COVID tests in the past week, source tells ESPN.
The Detroit Pistons announced plans today to place a limited number of tickets on sale beginning when the club plays the Toronto Raptors on March 17 at Little Caesars Arena. Working under direction of state and local government health professionals and guidelines, up to 750 fans will be allowed to attend upcoming games in this initial phase. Tickets will go on sale Thursday morning, March 4 at 10:00 a.m.
Steve Popper: According to a source, Knicks guard Derrick Rose’s test yesterday was inconclusive, which caused him to miss the San Antonio game for health and safety protocols. He’s had multiple negative test results since and has been cleared to fly home with the team.
Ian Begley: Derrick Rose’s COVID test on Tuesday was inconclusive, source confirms, which is why he was unable to play in NYK’s loss to SAS. Rose has had several negative test results since the inconclusive result, so he’s clear to fly to NY with team, source says. First reported by Newsday
The San Antonio Spurs will begin welcoming back some fans to games March 12, meaning half of the NBA now has a plan in place to allow limited attendance a year and a day after it shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. A 16th team, the Boston Celtics, have a plan to welcome back fans March 22. The Spurs' reduced capacity at the AT&T Center will be at 3,200 fans to allow for proper social distancing, the team said Monday.
Michael Singer: Facu Campazzo has been added to the Nuggets' injury report as doubtful due to contact tracing, source tells @denverpost. The Nuggets can appeal this decision, but it's likely he'll be out for tonight vs. Chicago. Will likely join RJ Hampton and Markus Howard as out.
Michael Singer: The #Nuggets are still awaiting the results from their contact tracing, I'm told. As of now, only Markus Howard (contact tracing) and R.J. Hampton (health and safety) are out.
Kyle Neubeck: According to sources familiar with the situation, lifting of state event restrictions by Governor Wolf today does not yet mean fans at WFC. Sixers still need the city to follow suit, but if/when they do, fans could *potentially* be back following the All Star break.
State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, has implemented the latest in drone technology as a part of the venue’s cleaning and disinfecting protocols. The award-winning arena has enlisted Lucid Drone Technologies, a cutting-edge drone company based out of Charlotte, NC and its D1 Disinfecting Drone (D1) to help in sanitizing the 17,500 seat venue between events, a first for any NBA arena.
Jim Owczarski: #Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said he did test positive for COVID-19 & he was symptomatic. Fatigue & the loss of taste & smell were not fun to go through. He also thought he was done for the game when he came out with a few minutes left & was thankful he was able to finish it out.
Knicks fans desperate to get back to Madison Square Garden are ponying up $250 for last-minute COVID tests before tip off, in order to meet new state testing rules for large venues. Under the regulations that went into effect Feb. 23, venues with more than 10,000 people can operate at 10 percent capacity — as long as every guest has passed a COVID test within 72 hours of tipoff.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: After missing 10 consecutive games in the league's health and safety protocol, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is likely to return to the lineup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Eric Nehm: Jrue Holiday practiced today, but Mike Budenholzer thinks he'll be listed as doubtful for tomorrow's game against the Clippers.
“Please be careful stepping out of the house every single day,” said Towns. “Follow all the protocols and rules and advice that Dr. Fauci, who’s the best of the best in the world at this…take his advice and understand that it’s coming from a place of wellbeing for everyone in this country.”
54% of Americans think it would be a good idea to give NBA players early access to the COVID-19 vaccine in order to increase public confidence in it, according to a survey administered last week by The Harris Poll.
Jason Jones: Kings are also without Jabari Parker along with Hassan Whiteside (health and safety protocols) at the Knicks tonight. Luke Walton said all prep for tonight was done via Zoom once there was word there was a positive COVID test, they got the list of players not available last night
We are excited that Governor Cooper has granted the opportunity for fans to begin returning to indoor arenas and entertainment venues. We have remained in contact with state and county officials, as well as the NBA, throughout the last year and are preparing a plan that we believe will allow fans to safely return to Spectrum Center in the near future. With the health of our guests, players and staff as our top priority, we have implemented a variety of upgrades to ensure that Spectrum Center is as safe as possible, including increased levels of air filtration and purification, as well as enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Tom Orsborn: Pop said no timetable for the return of the players in protocols: "Each one is a little bit different. It depends on the testing they do. So, I think a few more days, the quarantine period ends, but then there are a couple more days of more tests to see how it has affected them."
Michael C. Wright: Pop on the Spurs’ situation w/COVID-19 protocols: “We’re doing well, just moving on. Tough break for us, but not near as difficult as [what] many, many, many here in the state of Texas have had to endure. That’s for sure. So, we can’t complain.”
Jim Owczarski: #Bucks guard Jrue Holiday remains in the league's health and safety protocol and did not practice today. He is progressing through that protocol.
Keith Pompey: #Sixers’ Julius Erving with his COVID-19 Vaccine PSA youtu.be/BduFxXmReSA via @YouTube
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder tested negative for COVID-19, but he will be out at least a week because of potential exposure to the virus through contact tracing, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Saturday the team has a "more firm timeline" on Schroder, who will be sidelined an additional three games after being a late scratch in Thursday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets because of the league's health and safety protocols. He missed Saturday's 96-94 loss to the Miami Heat and will also be out Monday versus the Washington Wizards and Wednesday at the Utah Jazz.
Barclays Center is the first major North American sports venue to package COVID-19 testing as part of its ticket price. Fans will be offered the chance to take a test mailed to them far enough in advance to get a green light to attend games, and then given a rapid test to confirm their negative COVID status before entering the building, with results coming in six minutes.
The Sixers, Flyers, and Wells Fargo Center officials recently sent the city a proposal to have 5,000 fans in attendance for games beginning some time next month, according to sources. One of the sources said the Sixers would be satisfied with a limit of 2,500. Before Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets, the Sixers had played in front of only media members and team officials.
Embiid said it would be “a different story in Philadelphia. They care, and they are going to come to games and they are going to boo you. They are going to show up for you. But at the end of the day, it’s all love.” More than a dozen NBA teams are currently allowing fans in the stands. The Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Orlando Magic have the largest allowable crowds at up to 4,000 per game.
Brian Robb: Jayson Tatum says he's talked to other athletes who have dealt with similar lingering effects as him after having COVID-19 after he spoke up about it earlier this week.
Marc J. Spears: Ex-Warriors center Festus Ezeli is in quarantine in the G League Bubble and will be out Sunday, a source told @TheUndefeated. He is a part of the @nbagleague player pool making him eligible to be picked up by any team . He hasn’t played since 2016 NBA Finals due to knee injuries.
With the Miami Heat increasing the amount of fans permitted to attend games at AmericanAirlines Arena during the COVID-19 pandemic to about 3,000, a limited number of individual game tickets will soon be made available to the general public. A few hundred individual game tickets will go on sale to the general public on Saturday starting at noon on Heat.com for each of the final four home games before the All-Star break: Wednesday vs. Toronto Raptors, Feb. 26 vs. Utah Jazz, and Feb. 28 and March 2 vs. Atlanta Hawks. There is a four ticket per game purchase limit.
Jeff Goodman: NCAA will allow limited number of fans at the NCAA Tournament, including all rounds and the Final Four. The decision to allow up to 25% capacity with physical distancing was made in conjunction with state and local health authorities.
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.
May 19, 2022 | 8:48 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Sources: J. Cole is signing contract with the Scarborough Shooting Stars (@sss_cebl) in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the rap star’s second consecutive year playing professionally. CEBL training camp began this week, with season opener on May 26.