So, you’re home with your family, opened up all your gifts on Christmas Day, maybe played a couple of rounds of UNO, and getting ready to watch a full day of NBA basketball. You got Trey Young coming back to the Garden, two of the top teams in the league with the Warriors and Suns in the middle of the day, and the Lakers and the Nets in prime time.
But right now, the NBA has more than 80 players under COVID protocol, including Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. So, by the time we even get to the Christmas Day games, rosters might look like year 15 of NBA 2K franchise mode.
Right now, the NBA is not considering another bubble (sorry to the Lakers fans) or pause of any type. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke to ESPN’s Malika Andrews on NBA Today about that thought process:
“As we look through these cases literally ripping through the country, let alone the rest of the world, I think we’re finding ourselves where we sort of knew we were going to get to over the past several months, and that is this virus will not be eradicated, and we’re going to have to learn to live with it. I think that’s what we’re experiencing in the league right now.”
The NHL has put the season on pause to slow the spread. They have even agreed not to go to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Bejing. But leagues like the NFL and NBA aren’t going to give up any TV money. The NBA might have to call Gilbert Arenas or Popeye Jones to play on a 10-day contract. The Chicago Bulls had to have ten players in protocols before the NBA had to say, “iight, we gotta postpone these games.”
Right now, NBA policy states that a positive test requires either sitting out for ten days or getting two negative PCR tests taken more than 24 hours apart. Since the outbreak, the league has expanded testing, required masking, and made it easier to sign replacement players due to protocols.
Commissioner Silver goes on to say that while the Omicron variant is running through the league like a hurricane, their data shows “players who have received booster shots have both shown either no symptoms or very mild ones and have passed the virus through their systems faster.“
“We always are measuring viral loads with our PCR test,” Silver said. “So that’s something, again, that it’s not just our doctors but the medical community is looking at. I think they’re already realizing that you can move away from the 10-day protocol when you have players who are vaccinated and boosted.
About 97% of the league is fully vaccinated, and 65% have had booster shots. Both the NBA and NFL have signaled that they can potentially let asymptomatic players play or come back quicker. As the Toronto Raptors get ready to play the Chicago Bulls tomorrow, they only have nine players available. The way it’s going, they might be asking fans to live out their LA Fitness open run dreams and play for them.