Many of us were thrilled on New Year’s Eve. Finally, the year 2020 was over! But so far, 2021 hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. The NBA has seen a number of positive COVID-19 tests, including Sixers’ new shooter, Seth Curry. Curry was playing very well for his new team, and played in games on the 2nd, 4th, and 6th of January, before registering a positive test in the middle of a game on the 7th. Many wondered how on earth the team waited until the game started to learn of this and pull him away from teammates; perhaps because of this, other teammates have been forced to miss time as they isolate and ensure their own health.
We got some more news today from around the NBA.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Among protocol changes now agreed upon: NBA players can no longer interact with non-team guests at road hotels, sources tell ESPN. Players were allowed to have guests in rooms, but that is no longer the case.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 12, 2021
I’m not exactly sure what this means yet, but I’m guessing you can only speak to people already staying at your hotel, for example, your teammates, your own family members who happened to travel with you, team staff, or strangers already checked into the hotels (?) Perhaps this will limit those types of nights Mick Jagger was once famous for having?
On road, players and staff can’t leave hotel -- except for team activities or emergencies, sources tell ESPN. No more list of approved restaurants. https://t.co/fU7QnElnBq— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 12, 2021
Well this makes playing the Lakers, Heat or Knicks a lot less exciting, doesn't it? Likely a measure to help ensure players are not partying much after games on road trips. The lobby at the Hilton Garden Inn near Ft. Lauderdale may not be as bumping as clubs like LIV or ORA on South Beach, but I hear they sell extra large cans of Coors Banquet Beer until 1:30 am, which is phat. Also no more “culture building” team dinners out it seems.
And even when you’re home you have to remain at your own residence. So I guess we won’t be seeing any of our favorite players on line for a milkshake on Chestnut street for awhile.
Conspiracy theory: with Joel Embiid admitting to hiring a personal chef, measures like this to limit leaving ones residence decrease the team runs to fast food places and this will help Joel keep in shape. Afterall, Adam Silver once helped construct the Sixers front office, perhaps he still has some close buddies in there and roots for them and wants Embiid at his best.
Or is it the other way around and they forced the Sixers to play the Nuggets but didn't force other teams to play because they’re still mad at Sam Hinkie for tanking for Embiid? What say you JoJo?
THEY HATE THE PROCESS— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) January 10, 2021
Bangs gavel. Troel has spoken.
Sources: League's mandating increased mask wearing for players in games, except for "cool down chairs" arranged at least 12 feet from bench and 6 feet apart. Players can go there immediately after leaving court during game, but must return to regular seat on bench wearing a mask.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 12, 2021
Designated “cool down chairs” makes sense but it seems weird. We need a “hot seat” and a “time out chair” for those who haven’t played well enough to cool down.
No more post game jersey over the mouth to avoid lip reading whisper sessions where we speculate about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving teaming up on the knicks. Now it’s an elbow or fist bump.
This is how weird things have become. After recently bemoaning the fact the team had to play a game with 7 healthy players against the Nuggets over the weekend, maybe the Sixers will get one back. Check out these lineups for tonight:
Playing the Heat without Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Buter or Goran Dragic because of health and safety protocol sure makes things easier. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are listed as probable, although Simmons was reportedly dealing with a sore knee recently. Philly is 8 point favorites as of now because of all the Heat’s key absences.
The NBA seems to be trying to thread the eye of a needle that may not be threadable.
It's gotta be a Disney Bubble or a massive s*it show. There's no threading the needle here. Maybe teams can take turns in the bubble so they don't have to spend 6 months straight in it and we just draw this out a bit.— Lonnie Danile (@DanileLonnie) January 12, 2021
Asking or hoping the players comply with the new measures might help. But it’s not difficult to imagine it falling short. Playing indoor sports without masks during the peak of a deadly pandemic (with many severe ongoing symptoms for even those who survive) feels in many ways untenable. I understand this is ultimately a business. And business in a capitalist country pushes forward. The players did not want to live in a bubble for an entire season and playoffs. But I just wonder if there is some other alternative to this here.
If the first ten or eleven games of the young season have demonstrated anything for us, it’s that things are going to be very random and unpredictable. Per Tankathon.com, just look how wacky the NBA draft lottery would look if it were tomorrow:
How teams navigate their protocols may wind up playing a huge factor in who is crowned champion. The NFL offers some insight. The Seattle Seahawks didn’t have any positive cases all year long. Whereas the Baltimore Ravens were hit especially hard. And football is at least played outdoors, where the virus is known to dissipate more rapidly than indoors. We’re all learning on the fly. But it doesn’t seem farfetched that we could be days or weeks away from another “Rudy Gobert” moment where the entire thing gets paused.
In the meantime, there are hoops on tonight. Let’s hope everyone is safe and healthy and the Sixers blow out the Heat role players.