“We All Got To Protect Each Other” | Amid Surge In Positive COVID Cases, NBA Implements Increased Testing, And Players Are Frustrated

Due to the rapid uptick in positive COVID cases the NBA is increasing daily testing for players and staff, and mandating mask use for a two week period. Starting December 26th 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.

Players and staff will also be required to wear masks on the benches, in the teams’ workout facilities and while traveling with the team.

Several teams including, the: Nets, Hornets, Bulls, Nuggets, Lakers, 76ers, and Kings have experienced varying levels of COVID outbreaks this season.

52 players, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, Kings coach Alvin Gentry and Raptors president Masai Ujiri have gone into health and safety protocols in December. The rise in positive cases in the NBA, mirror what is happening in society at large. The league has already reported that the Omicron variant of the COVID virus has been detected in some players and staff.

But as much of society is resisting going back into full lockdown, so is the NBA. Given the last two seasons, the league is committed to playing this season without interruption. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t care about any of that.

The return of the normal NBA calendar, the vaccine, fans in packed arenas, and less restrictions have lulled everyone into a false sense of security. There will be no such thing as no more COVID. There was a time before COVID, but the virus will forever be present.

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said vaccines, masks, distancing and hygiene must continue diligently to mitigate the spread.

While this two-week ramp up seems like a positive step, the league and the NBPA should consider going back to the same policies as last season. Yes, it was an inconvenience to the players and it messed up routines, but if they want to finish the season uninterrupted they need to be more proactive.

Golden State Warriors’ all-everything forward Draymond Green says he’s not concerned because he’s vaccinated and boosted. But he will be more cautious.

That’s the thing. In the throes of a pandemic we can’t just live our normal lives. Vaccinated, boosted, and being masked are critical. But we also have to mitigate our risk when interacting with groups.

One thing the NBA could do is also require masks at all times for fans in attendance. Any look at an NBA arena and you see that mask wearing is extremely haphazard. These arenas have upwards of 19,000+ people crammed inside screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs.

Beginning Dec. 18, the Raptors will play in a half-capacity arena. The province of Ontario imposed 50 percent capacity limit on sports venues. How long before the U.S. follows suit?

The Christmas Day schedule is one of the high marks of the NBA calendar. No doubt commissioner Adam Silver wants to ensure that product presents as best as possible. That would be tough with half-empty arenas and none of the usually pomp and circumstance.

But what ultimately matters, the presentation of the games and what that means or the long-term health and safety of people?

Count 76ers superstar Joel Embiid as someone that wants the league to do more to mitigate the spread.

The NBA and its Board of Governors wants the league to finish the season with no interruptions for financial reasons. The players want to ball and make their money without interruption, and as Draymond Green said, “live their lives.” Fans want the normalcy of enjoying their sport with no limitations.

But nothing about a rapidly changing global pandemic is conducive to any of that.

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