The NBA, according to league sources, is very sensitive to being accused of taking advantage and giving its players the vaccine ahead of frontline workers, the vulnerable and the elderly. “We won’t jump the line” is a familiar refrain stated by commissioner Adam Silver. But given the sporadic distribution and seemingly passive response by the current administration, there’s no rhyme or reason to “the line” after the obvious people who will receive it.
Michele Roberts knows calls are coming about the COVID-19 vaccines, calls about the NBA players she represents, calls from those very players and even calls about herself, a 64-year-old Black woman who could very well have the option to take the vaccine.
Even if the questions are the same, the answers may not be. The National Basketball Players Association executive director has been doing her own research on the viability of the vaccines, weighing whether she will take it. But whether she takes it doesn’t give a definitive indication on what her recommendation to the players will be — a reasonable complication of a very layered, complex and downright scary situation.
“I got some very close friends. And really smart people have said to me, ‘Michele, it’s a no-brainer, of course, you’ll take the vaccine,’” Roberts said in a recent phone conversation with Yahoo Sports. “Unlike my players, I’m considerably older than they are and probably further up on the list. “But I haven’t made up my mind. I’m eager to be convinced that these are safe. I’m hopeful I’ll be convinced that they’re safe. But I’m not a cheerleader … I’m not at a place yet where I would wholeheartedly and fulsomely say, absolutely, you have to take it.”
“The sad fact, health care in our communities has never been anything other than subpar,” Roberts said, mentioning Tuskegee. “Our community’s suspicions about the bona fide ease of treatment that’s offered to us as well, let’s face it, Black pregnant women have an exponentially greater possibility of dying in childbirth, than their white counterparts, solely because of the quality of care that they receive. So you know, the African American players in the NBA are members of the African American community, that to the extent our community has certain sensitivities, not surprisingly, our players are going to have those sensitivities.”
The league has answered questions on myriad topics with the players, ranging from players who’ve caught the virus already and are unsure of taking the vaccine, to the function of the antibodies with the vaccine. It can suggest but not demand players take it — which may or may not be reflective of what’s to come nationally. “So ... if I don’t see a national requirement, a federal requirement — [President-elect] Biden’s often said that he’s not prepared to go down that road,” Roberts said. “But I think that there are going to be enough pockets of industry, where you will see [pseudo]-requirements. I think that some private employers might be able to do it.”
Michael Singer: Michael Porter Jr. is out vs. Mavs. A league source said this is not an extension of his prior close-contact protocol which began last Thursday and ended Wednesday night. denverpost.com/2021/01/07/mic…
Marc Stein: Kinexon sensors record proximity and duration when people wearing the sensors interact but do not track location or an individual’s movement. The device was mandatory in the Disney World bubble for team and league staff members (and reporters) but was optional for players there.
Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner When we hit 60 percent vaccine penetration, hopefully by April, the snapback for the NBA and live events will be like nothing we have ever seen. People will be so ready to go out and have fun at NBA games, at concerts and more. The NBA has a unique opportunity, as the sport in season then to really benefit as a brand and financially. Nothing will be more fun than a packed NBA game and a concert after the game. It’s going to be fun.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks head trainer talked to NYK about COVID protocols today. Thibs: "Safety has to come first. Whatever they ask us to do we're going to be diligent...following the protocols. But like everyone else in the country we're very concerned about everything that's going on right now"
Austin Carr: Hello Cleveland it’s Game Time, I will not be on the Cavs Broadcast tonight because Iam following COVID exposure protocols. Iam feeling fine and will be watching from home, tonight.Stay safe and GoCavs!!!!!
Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr.’s quarantine will end tonight, a league source told The Denver Post, and he’ll be available to play in Thursday night’s game against the Mavericks. Porter’s quarantine, which came as a result of contact tracing via the NBA’s health-and-safety protocols, began last Thursday, the source said. His seven-day protocol ends Wednesday night.
After Tuesday morning shootaround, Temple, who weeks ago said his positive test likely derived from a Thanksgiving family gathering and that he experienced symptoms, preached an abundance of caution. "Definitely concerns, especially after what we went through in Washington (D.C.)," Temple said of staying safe while traveling.
Temple's approach, and advice to his teammates, is to focus on the granular. "You can't tell a grown man what to do, obviously. But, for example, getting on the bus, me and Denzel (Valentine) were getting on the bus, and I was like 'Let me get some of this hand sanitizer while I'm walking into the bus.' Denzel was like, 'You right, let me get some too,'" Temple said. "Just doing things like that, going and washing your hands before shootaround, which everybody should be doing anyway. After shootaround, eat your food, things like that that you just do to make sure, to show people because it's just a new world out here. And be conscious about the things that you're doing to try to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Ian Begley: BKN coach Steve Nash says the length of Kevin Durant's quarantine is a 'moving target' based on several factors, including testing. He said some of the factors may be 'debatable' or 'in flux' so he isn't sure exactly how long Durant will be quarantining.
Beyond the financial impact — halftime entertainers typically make $1,500 to $5,000 a show — the effects of the pandemic have been felt within their community. David Maas, who had a popular act called Quick Change with his wife, Dania Kaseeva, died of Covid-19 in November. “My heart goes out to all my friends who are in this business,” said Jon Terry, a booking agent for halftime performers who is based in Oklahoma. “These are creative people, and in many cases, it’s their sole income. Some of these guys were making six-figure incomes, and you drop that out and there’s no place for them to do anything else.”
At the time, the couple had a long list of N.B.A. halftimes lined up for the rest of the season. They were also planning to bounce among festivals and circuses during the summer months in their 43-foot recreation vehicle, sometimes performing two or three times a day. On average, they do about 400 shows a year. Since March, the couple has performed exactly four times. Their return after a six-month hiatus came in September at the Juniata County Fair in Port Royal, Pa. They both cried. “I forgot what it was like to be in front of an audience,” Arestov said.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has informed its 30 teams of updated rules: — Starting Tuesday, all active players who are dressed to play must wear face mask until they enter the game — All players, coaches and staffers in Tiers 1/2 must wear a mask when outside team setting and indoor
Shams Charania: After exiting court, active players are strongly recommended to wear mask in bench area. The requirement resets at halftime (wear mask at start of second half until they enter the game). Inactive players remain required to wear mask for entire game.
As long as Durant continues to test negative for the coronavirus, the soonest he can return comes against the Denver Nuggets on January 12. Durant, who had COVID-19 in May, has continued to register coronavirus antibodies and tested negative for the virus three times in recent days, sources said.
Shams Charania: Nets star Kevin Durant is expected to require seven days of quarantine before returning to action due to contact tracing/exposure to COVID-19, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Brian Lewis: While the #Nets have been hard-hit by COVID-19, it’s important to note that Kevin Durant missing the #Jazz game isn’t due to having coronavirus. This is simply a contact tracing issue, according to a league source. #NBA
Adrian Wojnarowski: Players can have family members and those living in close contact regularly tested, and once someone tests positive for the virus, the player's placed in quarantine. Durant's passed three tests, sources say, but rules don't distinguish between those who've had virus and have not.
Shams Charania: Nets star Kevin Durant is listed out Tuesday vs. Utah due to NBA's coronavirus health and safety protocols.
Beyond the financial impact — halftime entertainers typically make $1,500 to $5,000 a show — the effects of the pandemic have been felt within their community. David Maas, who had a popular act called Quick Change with his wife, Dania Kaseeva, died of Covid-19 in November.
Jonathan Feigen: Ben McLemore, cleared from his self-isolation period, takes a seat for a media Zoom call with "I'm baaaaaaaack." Asked if he had symptoms, he said, "I'm healthy. I'm excited."
Eight members of the Clippers’ support staff had to drive vans back to Los Angeles from Utah over the weekend. Why? Because one of them tested positive for COVID-19, and contract tracing found that the other seven all dined No. 8 in a suite at the team hotel on New Year’s Eve. Mask wearing in the room was occasional. ESPN first reported the incident. A Clippers source said there were no league protocol violations but called the situation “unfortunate.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Several members of Clippers support staff are quarantined in Salt Lake City after a positive coronavirus test. Contact tracing led back to eight people attending a New Year’s Eve meal at a presidential suite in the team hotel with intermittent mask-wearing.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Quarantined group includes no players, no coaches and no team management, sources tell ESPN.
Mirjam Swanson: Confirming ESPN, per source: Under the league’s new COVID-19 health and safety protocols, a number of the Clippers’ staffers are in quarantine — they have sufficient support with the team for tonight’s game in Phoenix.
Anthony Chiang: Heat guard Avery Bradley wasn't at practice today because of the NBA's health and safety protocols. He has not yet been ruled out for tomorrow's game vs. OKC, though.
Brad Townsend: Bulls are dealing with COVID issue. Four players out tonight due to "health and safety protocols": Markkanen, Arcidiacono, Hutchison, Satoransky.
Harrison Wind: Michael Porter Jr. (contact tracing) and Greg Whittington (left knee sprain) remain out for Denver today in Minnesota. Towns, Okogie, Nowell out for Timberwolves.
Luis Scola tested positive for coronavirus according to Argentinian website Clarin. The veteran former All-EuroLeague forward and captain of the Argentinian national team is reported to be among the 12 members of Varese that tested positive for COVID-19, as the club announced Saturday (2/1).
Ohm Youngmisuk: Michael Malone says "hopefully we can learn from it" with Michael Porter Jr. being out due to health and safety protocols. "This is real. COVID is real... unfortunate but this is the current situation we are in."
Rob Schaefer: Billy Donovan also revealed that the Bulls were without four coaches when they played the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 26. Health and safety protocols-related
Rob Schaefer: Chandler Hutchison tested positive for COVID-19, per Bulls coach Billy Donovan. He’s still in DC. Markkanen, Satoransky and Arcidiacono are in Chicago
Shams Charania: Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. is missing tonight’s game vs. Phoenix and could be out a number of days, due to health and safety protocols (contact tracing), sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Michael Singer: Confirmed that Michael Porter Jr. won't be available for tonight's game due to health and safety contact tracing protocols, as @Shams Charania reported. I'm told the team's expectation is that he'll be out multiple games.
But during Thursday’s practice in San Francisco, where the Blazers will play Golden State on Friday, there was significance to the feat, because of what Little has gone through this month. On Dec. 1, as part of the NBA’s testing of players and staff, Little learned that he had contracted COVID-19. It wasn’t until Dec. 22 that Little recorded his first negative test and was able to rejoin the team. In between, he experienced three weeks of hell.
“For me, I was on the worst part of the spectrum, the hard end of the disease,” Little said. “I didn’t have to go to the hospital or be on a ventilator, but I went through it bad. It hit me really bad. For about seven to 10 days, I was just really miserable.”
Although he is back around his teammates, Little is far from returning to a game. The virus ravaged his body. He lost 20 pounds. And his conditioning and strength are nowhere near where he needs to be to compete against NBA players. His battle with COVID-19 is another chapter in a bizarre and trying first season with the Blazers, when it seemed like every time the first-round pick was turning a corner, he was thwarted by a fluke circumstance.
The NBA is placing a significant burden on team officials to monitor and mete out discipline in cases of COVID-19 protocol violations among players and staff, the league told teams on Thursday in a memo obtained by ESPN. The memo comes on a day that four Chicago Bulls players -- Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacono, Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison -- were ruled out against the Washington Wizards because of league health and safety protocols.
The NBA reminded teams that it can become aware of potential violations through a number of avenues, including reporting by team or league personnel, media and social media reports, review of game broadcasts and calls to the league-established health and safety hotline. The NBA told teams that they must follow normal disciplinary processes in handing out punishments, including "determining the facts, providing the person alleged to have violated the protocols with an opportunity to be heard, and using principles of fairness, proportionality and progressivity in determining discipline."
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA teams have the "primary responsibility for monitoring and enforcing compliance" with COVID-19 protocols, league tells teams in a memo. "Teams are responsible in the first instance for imposing any appropriate discipline on players or team staff."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Other than league "assuming primary responsibility" for investigating and possible punishment for "In-Game" violations and "Exceptional Circumstances" (such as a meaningful failure of team compliance), league tells teams that rules compliance is significantly on them to enforce.
Mark Berman: Eric Gordon back after missing seven days while being in quarantine: “Seven days is a big deal...Not doing much. Not allowed to practice. It’s a big deal..It’s hard to explain.I hate that we had to go through it like this. The thing is is this could easily happen again.” #Rockets pic.twitter.com/8zWmyXkDiM
The NBA is planning to roll out an ambitious aspect of its leaguewide contact tracing program by requiring players and many team staffers to wear sensor devices during all team-organized activities outside of games starting Jan. 7, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN. Only Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals -- designations outlined in the league's health and safety protocols that include players and specific staff members, such as coaches -- will be required to wear Kinexon SafeZone contact sensor devices on the team plane, the team bus, during practices, and to and from the arena or their home practice facility in connection with team travel, the memo states.
The sensors do not record GPS location and will activate when coming within close proximity, which is defined as six feet, to another person wearing one -- a point that health officials across the NBA emphasized to quell concerns about whether individual movements would be monitored. It is expected that the "proximity alarm" feature on the devices, which was active in the Orlando, Florida, bubble, will be disabled this season. The memo states that the sensors will record "the distance and duration of in-person interactions" with others who are wearing a sensor, which the NBA believes will aid in its contact tracing reviews in instances of positive cases. Such reviews will be supplemented with interviews of players and staff members, as well as potentially examining camera footage at team facilities, to better understand who might have been exposed to an infected individual.
One health official with direct knowledge of the situation noted that the sensors should significantly help in better determining which players or staff might need to be quarantined should the situation arise. "We don't want to have to needlessly quarantine someone that doesn't need to be," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Spectators are not allowed in most NBA markets due to local health orders, but a limited number of fans will be in attendance when John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins make their Houston Rockets debuts against the Kings on Thursday. Houston is one of the few NBA cities where fans are being permitted under strict COVID-19 protocols. Up to 4,500 are expected at the Toyota Center when the Rockets (0-2) entertain the Kings (3-1) in their home opener on New Year’s Eve.
Jason Quick: CJ McCollum says that Carmelo Anthony practiced with the Blazers today in Los Angeles and he expects him to be available for Wednesday against the Clippers. He said Anthony was not positive for COVID as he was not with team because of "health and safety protocols."
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ request for more fans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse has been approved. Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud, who works for Governor Mike DeWine’s administration, informed the Cavaliers in a letter Tuesday afternoon that they will be granted a variance, allowing 1,944 spectators total, which is 10% of the arena’s capacity.
In the approval letter, the Cavs were informed that the number of spectators seated in a group cannot exceed six individuals from the same family or party in seating throughout the venue and all groups must have at least six feet of social distancing between them in all directions.
From the start of COVID-19’s arrival, Silver and the NBA trusted science, medicine and data and listened to infectious disease, mental and public health experts, virologists, epidemiologists, microbiologists and researchers. “The NBA from the beginning was a leader in response to COVID,” said Yonatan Grad, a Harvard assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases. “As soon as they had their first case, they shut down the league the same day. And I think the first really big cultural institution to do so. … They are bold and attend to and respond to public health issues even from the beginning. It’s in keeping with their values and their thinking.”
“I haven’t seen anything that’s this comprehensive from anyone. Not just the federal government, I haven’t seen state governments put anything out this comprehensive and haven’t seen any industries that’s put out something this comprehensive,” Dr. Rishi Desai, the chief medical officer at Osmosis and an infection disease physician, told USA TODAY Sports of the league’s bubble protocols.
His status for the upcoming road trip is unclear. “We miss Alex. Alex is great energy,” Vogel said. “He’s one of our most vocal guys even when he’s not in the game, just talking on coverages. He’s like an assistant coach over there, helping guys through defending actions. He’s a big part of what we do, obviously, so we certainly missed his energy tonight.”
Alex Caruso missed Monday's 115-107 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers because of the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocol, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before the game. Caruso, who played 11 minutes in the Lakers' 127-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, was considered questionable for the Blazers game because of a right hand strain, but Vogel clarified that it wasn't Caruso's hand that was keeping him out of the Portland game.
All players are required to undergo daily coronavirus testing this season. The Lakers conduct the tests at their facility in El Segundo, California. "We adjust the testing window based on what our day looks like," Vogel said. "An off day, I think we're typically doing something like 8 to 12, guys can come in any time during that window. And if we have practice at 11 or noon, we just adjust the testing window accordingly. For 9:45 shootarounds, testing starts at 7:30. So, we adjust it based on the day's schedule and if we're on an off day, we just drive in, go get tested and drive home." A league source, when speaking to ESPN about the testing requirements, said, "there's no such thing as an off day this season."
Eric Walden: Quin Snyder, on Rudy Gobert's return to OKC: "Rudy’s worked through all that. Rudy was vilified, and in hindsight we have a greater understanding of the virus. Rudy’s aware mistakes were made, but they’re mistakes that have been made over and over again by all of us."
Ben Anderson: Quin Snyder on Rudy Gobert being the first NBA player to have COVID-19. "Rudy was vilified, but in hindsight I think we have a greater understanding of the virus." Said Gobert had pretty significant symptoms for two weeks after they got home from OKC.
Jeff McDonald: The Spurs vowed to listen to local leaders and health officials when it came to the decision to open the AT&T Center to fans or not. They did. Bexar County COVID numbers have been trending the wrong direction the past few weeks, so the Spurs' re-opening plan is on pause.
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who also owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, remembers the moment he learned the 2019-2020 season would be paused in March. "It was right in the middle of a Mavs game," he told ABC's "The Year." "I remember it vividly, when I got the text saying the rest of the season was being postponed, and potentially canceled. I was stunned."
Cuban credits the NBA for prioritizing "the health and safety of players, employees [and] fans" and for "taking a science-driven approach rather than an emotional or political" one. "Players bought in and recognized the importance of this," Cuban said. "It wasn't just about playing a game. They realized that there were a lot of people whose livelihoods depended on those games being played and they took the responsibility seriously. And we got through our season with zero cases. Zero. It was incredible."
While filming season 12 of "Shark Tank" amid the pandemic, Cuban said the show "took a page from the NBA." "We all went to the Venetian Hotel and quarantined," he said. "When I say 'all,' not just the sharks who were filming, not just the entrepreneurs who were participating, but the several hundred people on staff doing production, doing hair, doing makeup."
Rod Beard: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services allows for a max of 250 fans in arenas. There are fans here at Little Caesars Arena, and most of them look to be employees and team families, from what I can tell.
Eric Koreen: Gregg Popovich: “We owe them a safe environment. … For right now, they are not going to be fans in the arena."
Jeff Zillgitt: DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon, Mason Jones & John Wall are in a seven-day quarantine before they can return to practice, games or team activities. The quarantine will end, and they’ll be available to participate with the team assuming negative testing on Wednesday, per sources.
The source said that, assuming negative COVID-19 testing, the players can return to team activities Wednesday before the Rockets face the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. The NBA's protocols on contact tracing give the league the ability to make decisions on possible timelines for return if players continue to test negative.
The Rockets’ season remains scheduled to begin Saturday in Portland after some uncertainty about whether they would have the required eight players available, a person with knowledge of the situation said on Friday. The Rockets will still be severely shorthanded, expecting to play with nine players, the individual said, with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and others in quarantine, and Ben McLemore and K.J. Martin Jr. “self-isolating” after COVID tests this week.
Marc Stein: The Rockets are scheduled to fly to Portland tonight for SATURDAY’S game against the Trail Blazers and — as of Christmas afternoon — they are on course to have enough players to travel, league sources say. Houston must have eight players in uniform for the game to go-ahead.
Shams Charania: The Rockets have several players — including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly more — currently facing seven-day quarantine per NBA contact tracing protocol, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: Due to a separate positive test for a Houston Rockets staff member, there is additional contact tracing being performed that involves guard Eric Gordon and others, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA has informed teams that infectious disease and public health experts advising the league has concluded, consistent with FDA, that the new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are "safe and effective," league tells teams in a memo obtained by ESPN.
Shams Charania: Sources: Two new NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 558 tested since Dec. 16.
April 17, 2021 | 3:07 pm EDT Update
Sarah Todd: Following an MRI and clinical evaluation, Donovan Mitchell suffered a significant right lower ankle sprain. He will be re-evaluated in one week.
Harrison Faigen: Frank Vogel says Andre Drummond will play and start today. Keef and Dennis are game-time decisions. Marc Gasol is available but dealing with hamstring tightness and his broken finger. Everyone else (other than AD and LeBron and Dudz) is good to go.
On Thursday, the Michigan Wolverines got some big news as senior leader Isaiah Livers announced he would be declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft. He put together an outstanding career in Ann Arbor and will now take his talents to the next level. This was an anticipated decision, but was made official on Thursday.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Stephen Curry said recently. “We’ve been able to mobilize quickly. We didn’t expect to have such an impact — we only launched a year and a half ago. But so many kids were hanging in the dark. It was alarming. We are excited about the work we’re doing but it’s hard to celebrate because it means the need is so great. That’s the dichotomy.”