There’s trouble in the NBA, the so-called paragon of how to successfully slam dunk the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a 97 percent vaccination rate, an outbreak of the coronavirus is fast-breaking through the league. Despite a 60 percent player booster shot rate, the league has already lost just as many players and coaches to the dreaded illness as it did last season when fewer had been jabbed, Yahoo! Sports reported.
This is supposed to be the league that is on the cutting edge of dealing with the pandemic. It was the first sports league to cease operations last year when the coronavirus flared up in the United States. It later restored action in a Florida bubble, where players were practically under house arrest between games. This is the league with a franchise in Brooklyn, which will not allow unvaccinated all-star Kyrie Irving (seen above in photo) to play or practice. It’s a league with a team in Canada that, next year, will not allow unvaccinated NBA players to enter the country.
“The NBA has been at the forefront of how professional sports handle a global pandemic since life as we know it changed in March of 2020,” SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell said. With all these precautions in place, the NBA must be thriving health-wise, right?
Not so arm-jabbing fast.
O’Donnell wrote, “While the league has been hailed for how it’s handled Covid since the beginning, the unfortunate reality is that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic that’s quickly approaching its third year. Midway through the 2021-2022 season, the NBA has another outbreak on its hands.
How bad is it, doc? Give it to us straight.
Seven members of the Chicago Bulls are currently in health and safety protocol after positive tests: DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., Javonte Green, Matt Thomas, Ayo Dosunmu and Stanley Johnson. Nikola Vucevic previously missed 10 days.
The Charlotte Hornets report four positive tests -- for LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee and Terry Rozier.
The Denver Nuggets are three players short.
Memphis guard Ja Morant got vaccinated and received a booster shot, all for naught. He tested positive for COVID-19. His teammate Dillon Brooks caught it, too.
Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle entered the health and safety protocol.
Toronto team president Masai Ujiri is sick with COVID-19.
All told, the NBA reported nearly three dozen cases of virus breakthroughs among its vaccinated players. No games have been postponed, but O’Donnell wonders how long it will take before that happens. Chicago’s G-League team already has postponed games.
"The Bulls in particular are running out of players,” O’Donnell goes on. “As new variants emerge, it’s clear we’re not out of the woods — and maybe that close to it — as the calendar flips to 2022.”
Nevertheless, the SBNation writer isn’t ready to give up on the standard advisories or the current NBA season. COVID-19 will disappear if everyone gets on “the same page” and practices six-foot distancing, wears a mask, gets vaccinated and booster shots, O'Donnell predicted.
Vigilance is needed in times like these, yes. Unfortunately for the players, coaches and one team president, the NBA is not at the forefront on how to curb the spread of this nasty, persistent pandemic and its frequent surges. Perhaps the media members who’ve been praising the NBA to the hilt (while ignoring its China hypocrisy) will finally wake up and smell the coffee.