For a third consecutive season, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc within the NBA. Foregoing the decision to establish another “bubble,” games look nearly similar–with some exceptions–to what they were prior to March 11, 2020, the day the NBA decided to temporarily suspend the 2019-20 season.
Now, COVID’s latest surge is taking its toll on numerous teams and players The NBA has postponed games, teams are closing their facilities, and countless players are entering health and safety protocols. The Dallas Mavericks, one of the teams hit hardest by last season’s outbreak, have mostly avoided the surge, but they are staying vigilant, knowing that it could only be a matter of time before it affects them.
“This isn’t new,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said. “This has been around. So, we’re just taking it one day at a time. That’s all you can do because tomorrow could be different where you could have positive tests. You just have to take it one day at a time.”
As of Thursday night, at least 52 players league-wide and two head coaches have entered the league’s health and safety protocols in December, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Twenty-two players entered protocols on Wednesday and Thursday alone. The increase in positive tests prompted the NBA and NBPA to establish new protocols for the holidays.
The new measures include daily testing and required face mask use for players, coaches, and team personnel on the sidelines. These changes will go into effect on December 26 and run through January 8.
“It’s crazy,” Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber said. “It’s been going a little bit crazy in Europe already for quite some time. My family is in Germany. They started to have different rules again, shutdown things a little bit. It was just a matter of time, I guess. Right now, the NBA is hit pretty hard. I guess we will see how it continues and if we can stay healthy.”
Kleber was one of five Mavericks to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols last season. He missed 11 games. The virus also forced Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, and Josh Richardson to quarantine. Dallas players missed a total of 41 games combined because of COVID exposure.
According to Kidd, his players must be accountable to themselves and their teammates when it comes to COVID-19. If they feel sick, they need to report it and follow all the proper procedures that are in place to protect themselves and one another, even if it means isolating them from the team. Communication is important in stopping the spread.
Even with strong communication and enhanced protocols in place, Kidd says that it’s likely that the current wave of positive COVID-19 cases will affect every team. It’s just a matter of time.
“COVID has been here,” Kidd said. “Dallas went through it and had a tough stretch last year with it. There are some teams in the league that are struggling with it. I think it’s going to touch everyone at some point.”