Fortune Favors the Brave…and the NBA: Asymptomatic Athletes Get Coronavirus Tests Before the Sick

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the United States and caused the NBA and many other professional leagues to postpone their seasons. 

On the last day of January, Senior Vice President of the NBA David Weiss delivered a message to teams regarding the Coronavirus.

“In light of the global reach of the NBA and frequent travel of teams and staff, we are closely monitoring the spread of a respiratory illness caused by a novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) both in the United States and internationally,” Weiss wrote, according to ESPN. 

By sending this memo, Weiss put protocols in place for the NBA, putting teams first in line to be tested by the time the first case of the Coronavirus hit the NBA on March 11, the same day the season was postponed. 

As of March 27, there are 15 positive cases of Coronavirus in the NBA: Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert (cleared as of March 27), Detroit Pistons player Christian Wood (recovered), Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant along with three unnamed players, Denver Nuggets with one unnamed member of the organization, three unnamed members of the Philadelphia 76ers organization, two unnamed Los Angeles Lakers players and Boston Celtics player Marcus Smart. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio argued that the NBA was cutting the line ahead of patients who were without tests. 

“We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” he tweeted. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.

President Trump expressed a different ideal to de Blasio’s point, saying “perhaps that’s been the story of life,” he said during a news conference on March 18. “That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed understanding of de Blasio’s point, but argues that the “fundamental issue is obviously there are insufficient tests. I’d only say in the case of the NBA, we’ve been following the recommendations of public health officials,” he said.

However, according to CNBC, both the Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder both used private companies to test players and staff in their respective organizations.

People took to Twitter to express their irritation with the uneven treatment of ill persons. 

“Our two-year-old son is sick. [He has a] fever, [he is] wheezing, [he has] low-average oxygen, [a] negative flu test [and was] previously hospitalized for a respiratory infection, [but no] Coronavirus test,” @BuffaloHanks tweeted. “Why do NBA players and celebrities receive tests, and my son cannot? Where are the tests?”

The COVID-19 pandemic is destroying social relationships because of the ‘triage’ created through fame and money in the United States. At first envied for their lifestyles, people are frustrated and fighting against celebrities for making them feel inferior.

On the other hand, many quarantined Americans miss their favorite winter sport, and are hoping for its return. Although lacking updates, the NBA has not yet canceled this 2019-20 season indefinitely, and fans everywhere are crossing their fingers. 

About Susanna Granieri 76 Articles
Susanna Granieri is a fourth-year journalism and digital media production major. This is her fifth semester with The Oracle. Previously, she worked as an Arts & Entertainment Copy Editor and Sports Editor. She is passionate about journalism and being a watchdog for our local issues and news in the Village of New Paltz. She has also written for the Legislative Gazette, the Southern Ulster Times and Being Patient. She will continue her journalism career in the fall of 2021 at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.