Last week, when the NBA abruptly shut down after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, aka coronavirus, it was thanks in large part to the speed of access he was afforded upon first exhibiting symptoms of the disease at the root of a global health crisis. In the hours after his diagnosis, the entire Jazz team and their personnel were administered more than 50 coronavirus tests while they were quarantined in OKC.
This sparked a great deal of backlash, given the nationwide shortage of tests available to the general public, as many individual states cannot even begin to report accurate data about how many people are infected. Critics argued that it only underscored the economic divide that allows the wealthy better access to potentially life-saving healthcare.
But the league has since gone on the offensive, pointing out that public figures like professional athletes are at the epicenter of the disease because of the sheer number of people they come into contact with on a regular basis and how that number fans out exponentially.
NBPA President Michele Roberts echoed that sentiment recently when asked about the criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who tweeted his frustration about the Brooklyn Nets’ testing that resulted in four players, including Kevin Durant, testing positive for COVID-19. Roberts instead shifted focus back on the federal government for their lack of planning and their sluggish response as the pandemic quickly took hold around the world, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“The problem that more of us can’t get the tests — and I’m not apologetic about saying it — in my view, that rests at the foot of the federal government. They were responsible for making sure we were protected in that regard and I think they failed.”
“I get it,” Roberts said. “People should not be having to wait in line. The at-risk population should be the first to be tested. But gddammit, if the government had done what they were supposed to do, we wouldn’t be competing for an opportunity to be tested.”
Roberts went to say that, in fact, it would’ve been irresponsible of the NBA not to procure tests because of the aforementioned exposure the players have to such large populations in so many cities around the country. In the meantime, the Los Angeles Lakers were the latest team scheduled to be tested on Wednesday and are awaiting the results as the NBA season hangs in the balance and the league faces many difficult decisions ahead.