Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) walks past Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans (42), goalie Bradley Beal (3), forward Corey Kispert (24) and center Montrezl Harrell (6 ) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, December 11, 2021, in Washington. (Nick Wass, Associated Press)
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WASHINGTON DC – Quin Snyder slapped slowly on the desk. It wasn’t wood, but his message was clear: Please let his team’s luck continue.
The NBA as a whole is seeing an increase in positive cases of COVID-19. Former University of Utah star Kyle Kuzma failed to claim Saturday’s Jazz victory due to testing positive, adding his name to a growing list of players who have recently contracted the virus . Some teams have had isolated cases, while others – like Charlotte and Chicago – have seen full-blown epidemics.
This season, the league has sought to bring back a sense of normalcy among players and teams after enduring the bubble and a truncated year mostly without fans. The schedule was back to normal – 82 games taking place from October to April – and fans had returned to the stadiums.
The new variants that continue to emerge have served as a reminder that normal – whatever that means nearly two years since the Jazz were at the epicenter of the pandemic – is still hard to come by.
âIt doesn’t look like it’s going to be going anywhere anytime soon,â Rudy Gobert said. âSo we have to be smart, keep moving forward, be smart, and that’s it. It’s unfortunate when someone tests positive, but that will be our reality for a while, so we have to just live with it. “
Once a player tests positive, they must self-isolate from the team for 10 days or return two negative PCR tests within a 24-hour period before they can resume action.
Currently, there are 22 players across the NBA who follow the league’s COVID health and safety protocols, and the number is increasing day by day. On Saturday it was Kuzma and Obi Toppin from New York who joined the list; Sunday was Chicago’s Zach LaVine, joining several of his teammates. The Bulls are approaching the point where they could risk not being able to dress the league’s minimum eight players.
âI hope it’s not one of those years,â said Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers. âHonestly, it looks like it’s going that way. You watch football, a lot of guys suddenly understand that – the same in our league. And you just hope for a lot of reasons that it doesn’t happen. “
Rivers’ team experienced an outbreak last month, with several players, including star Joel Embiid, suffering from severe symptoms. Rivers said players are still feeling the effects of their fight with COVID.
âI think everyone who’s had it in the league, for the most part, these guys are still struggling,â Rivers said. “They play, that doesn’t mean they play 100%.”
In other news, former Jazz guard John Stockton did an interview with âDNP-CD Sports Podcast,â which will be released on Monday. In his interview, Stockton criticized the two vaccination terms and applauded Brooklyn Nets goalie Kryie Irving for his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Irving has yet to play a game this season due to his position.
“There’s no way I’m risking this to play,” Stockton said, quoted in a New York Post report. “I hope other guys join in. And we’re all locking up our arms. And neither of us are playing.”
Stockton has previously appeared in a documentary on vaccine conspiracy and misinformation. In that documentary, he said COVID-19 is “not very dangerous” compared to other viruses. Healthcare professionals, however, continue to stress that a vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mitchell said he texted Kuzma after hearing his close friend tested positive. The former Utes player told him he had no symptoms and was fine. Mitchell said the most important thing as more players contract the virus is to just stay smart.
âIt helps that we’ve already played a season through this, so being able to navigate, to understand, ‘OK, if you’ve got a bunch of people (together) you’ve got to get tested.’ Be smart about it, âMitchell said.â Because you’re trying to get back to normal we all are, so being smarter, understanding and being boosted and having been vaccinated helps. That mindset, just being able to do the little things, using hand sanitizer, being extra clean, doing what you can when you can. This is really all.
The Jazz are fully vaccinated, but Snyder did not say how many players received the booster. He said the situation is something the team must continue to be aware of, especially as things continue to change.
âIt’s fluid,â Snyder said. “The whole situation. I don’t know if we can do anything about it, other than trying to stick to the things that we know can help. If we’re one of the unlucky ones, you deal with it when that is. come .”
But he’s touched wood – or, more precisely, plastic – that they won’t.