The 17 OKC Thunder players traveling to Orlando were not among the 25 NBA payers who tested positive for COVID-19.
Mandatory testing of NBA players for COVID-19 began on June 23rd. With teams preparing to head to Orlando next week theses tests will become part and parcel of everyday life. On Wednesday, July 2nd, the OKC Thunder advised none of their 17 players have tested positive for the coronavirus.
As per Erik Horne of The Athletic, a spokesperson for the team delivered this information prior to the virtual interview with Steven Adams. If we’re diving into the wording semantics the fact the spokesperson said “since returning to the team” is noteworthy because it leaves the window open that players could’ve contracted the virus during the hiatus but that information would not be shared.
17 OKC Thunder players test negative for coronavirus
This is important given the NBA acknowledged 25 players have tested positive out of the 351 players who underwent those exams since mandatory testing began.
The initial tests from June 23rd resulted in 16 positive tests. The additional nine positive tests were a result of tests taken in the six days between June 24th and June 29th
Of note, the 25 total does not include the players who tested positive at the start of the pandemic. Patient zero of the NBA was Rudy Gobert who as OKC Thunder fans know was the reason the March 11th game was postponed and the NBA shut down later that evening.
Also, as per above, players who may have contracted the virus while the league was on hiatus aren’t known. Due to privacy of information, we may never learn the positive tallies of the individuals from this group.
As for team staff and the parties who’ll also travel to the Disney bubble the numbers were significantly less percentage-wise with just 10 of 884 tests returning a positive result. The stakeholders are likely breathing a sigh of relief over this latter number since the people in this group are older and more susceptible to greater complications from the virus.
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In an effort to keep players and team staff as healthy as possible the league is exercising extreme caution. That has led to the closing of practice facilities by two teams. The Denver Nuggets closed after two members of their traveling party tested positive. As per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the LA Clippers also closed their training facilities after a member of the traveling party tested positive.
The other key to note is this is what NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michelle Roberts envisioned when they laid out the protocol for testing. The objective is to determine all players and team staff who are infected in order to isolate and quarantine them.
The objective is to enter the Disney bubble with no one infected by the virus. Clearly, even if the NBA is able to accomplish this goal it doesn’t mean they can keep COVID-19 out of the bubble especially since Disney staff will be coming and going. However, the hope is it will be easier to isolate and track anyone exposed in the bubble.
Moving forward, the OKC Thunder will travel to Orlando next week on July 8th. Practice sessions and three scrimmages will occur between July 9th and 29th. OKC will play their first seeding game on August 1st playing the Utah Jazz in the makeup match for the game that was postponed. The full seeding schedule with TV broadcasters and times (other than game 8) can be found here.
With the American Independence Day holiday tomorrow, the writing team wishes everyone a Happy July 4th. Have fun, but stay safe and healthy.