By all accounts, the NBA bubble was a tremendous success.
Not only did it salvage an NBA season that was otherwise left for dead by a global pandemic, but it proved that sports could still thrive—on incredibly short notice—while protecting the health and safety of team personnel and professional athletes through rigorous testing, extensive social distancing protocols, and wearing your damn mask.
Unfortunately, despite the lingering impact of this pandemic, the upcoming season will see the league return to its much more traditional roots, which means that teams will be playing in their home arenas and players will be far more susceptible to COVID-19 exposure. We’ve seen the havoc that the coronavirus has wreaked on college football and the NFL this season, and according to a new report, it’s safe to assume that this NBA season could be just as turbulent.
At a time when teams throughout the league are gearing up for training camp, ESPN reports that two players on the Golden State Warriors have tested positive for COVID-19.
“As players have entered back into our market, two players have tested positive after they’ve reentered,” Bob Myers, Warriors general manager and president of basketball operations, told ESPN. “I don’t think this is unexpected with all the guys coming back in from [outside of the] market. It kind of proves that the protocols and testing are working. That was the whole point to catch these things before we began.”
In what should come as a surprise to no one, Myers declined to disclose the names of the players. But in response to their diagnoses, the Warriors have pushed back their individual workouts to Wednesday and group workouts to Dec. 7.
“We can’t control the environment like the league did with the bubble,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re going into this thing with our eyes wide open. I talk every day with [Warriors President] Rick [Welts] and Bob about our COVID protocols, the latest updates from the league, latest updates from our training staff, what’s happening. As far as my confidence level, I’m confident that the league is going to do everything in their power to do things the right way and to protect us, protect the players and the staffs.”
The Warriors aren’t the only team dealing with the coronavirus already either, as Washington Wizard’s coach Scott Brooks confirmed earlier this week that a “non-returning player” contracted the virus as well. There’s also Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba, who, despite testing positive nearly six months ago, is still “a ways away” from being able to return to action.
“Well right now we’re hoping that he can get healthy enough to get back on the floor,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s going to be able to do some of the things early in camp, but he’s going to be limited. He’s had kind of a tough stretch here in terms of how much he been able to do. [...] There’s no real timetable for him to be able to come back and fully participate.”
I love basketball as much as anyone, but the health and safety of these players takes the utmost precedence. Hopefully, Bamba and other players battling this virus are able to return to the floor soon, but as the NBA already proved this summer, I have the utmost confidence that the league will do its best to deliver a quality product on the court while ensuring team personnel and players remain safe.
COVID is no joke, y’all.