With Russell Westbrook joining James Harden and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as the latest stars to enter the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the league has clearly had enough of this foolishness. So in its efforts to stand up for itself and stop allowing the coronavirus to shake everyone down for their lunch money, the league is imposing some new rules and expanding its guidelines for testing.
As the NBA tries to fortify itself against waves of positive COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, the league will increase daily testing and face mask use for players and staff through the holiday season, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association agreed to elevate testing for two weeks starting on December 26. Players and staff will be tested on game days except for those who received their booster shot 14-plus days earlier or recently recovered from the virus, the memo said.
Players and staff will be required to wear masks on the benches, in the teams’ workout facilities and while traveling with the team, the memo said.
We already know you can never have enough cowbell, and now thankfully, that same prerequisite is being applied to wearing masks.
Since December started all of 17 days ago, 52 players (and counting) have entered the league’s health and safety protocols. And that doesn’t even include Sacramento Kings coach Alvin Gentry—whose team shut down their facility on Thursday due to an outbreak—Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, whose team invoked the Drake Protocols last week as a last-ditch effort to protect itself from unruly Americans. Other teams that have been derailed by outbreaks include the Charlotte Hornets, the Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Lakers—and on Wednesday and Thursday, a total of 22 players entered the league’s health and safety protocols.
On Thursday, the NFL announced that it’s taking similar measures in order to prevent its own season from going off the rails.
“Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel,” the league said in a statement. “We will continue to strongly encourage the booster shots as the most effective protection. Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19.
“All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community.”
Let us hope and pray that these changes put a dent in all of these outbreaks.