Outside of the bubble, the NBA quickly realizes that completing a season during a pandemic will be challenging.
The NBA set the standard for playing professional sports during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the bubble that saw the league finish its season and crown a champion with 0 positive tests for the coronavirus. It was a tough task that took a toll on the players physically and mentally. Adam Silver knew going into the expedited 2020-21 season that things would only be tougher now that his players are back in the real world without the protection of the bubble from COVID-19, and it’s become evident early into the season.
The Houston Rockets were the first team to face trials of COVID-19 early in the season after three either tested positive or had inconclusive tests and multiple players, including team superstars like James Harden, John Wall, and DeMarcus Cousins, had to quarantine as per league protocols postponing the December matchup between the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now the Philadephia 76ers are the next team to face that challenge after Seth Curry tested positive for the highly contagious virus during the team’s Thursday (Jan.7) matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. ESPN first reported that the team was informed of Curry’s positive test near the game’s start. He did not play in the game due to an ankle injury and sat on the bench in street clothes. He was even seen talking with Joel Embiid when the center came out of the game for a rest.
Curry would eventually leave the bench area and be isolated from the rest of the team after being informed of his positive diagnosis. The team stayed the night in New York and immediately began contact tracing protocols. Superstar, Joel Embiid told ESPN that he would self-quarantine immediately to protect his family. The center has a 3-month old son. Curry’s positive test put Saturday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets in jeopardy.
Today, Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the NBA will go forward with the game and that the Sixers made it by the skin of their teeth by having 9 players available. The NBA insider is also reporting that there are still players unsure about suiting up for the game despite getting the all-clear to play.
When the Sixers take the court, they will be without Embiid (back tightness) and Ben Simmons (left knee swelling). To ensure the team does have 9 players, Mike Scott will be upgraded to available, but will not play sources revealed to Woj.
The players are not the only ones who are not eager to play today’s game. The Sixers head coach, Doc Rivers, doesn’t want his team to play this game either, he revealed when speaking with the press.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, it’s interesting to see how the NBA manages to complete this already challenging season.
Photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty