The NBA has been at the forefront of battling the COVID-19 crisis in the United States, becoming the first team to suspend its season over the outbreak last Wednesday after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
But the league also took some heat for its ability to test players on teams like the Jazz or the Oklahoma City Thunder so quickly while other Americans are struggling to be tested at all.
Even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio chimed in on the subject Tuesday night on Twitter.
“We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” de Blasio wrote. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”
We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.
Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick. https://t.co/7uQlL3zc7Z
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 17, 2020
Well, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not having that whatsoever.
“I, of course, understand his point. But it?s unfortunate we?re at this point in society where it?s triage when it comes to testing, which is a fundamental issue obviously as there are insufficient tests,” Silver told Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Wednesday. “I?d only say in the case of the NBA, we?ve been following the recommendations of public health officials.
“I mean, let me begin with the situation in Oklahoma City last Wednesday night. The Utah Jazz did not ask to be tested. The Oklahoma public health official there on the spot not only required that they be tested, but they weren’t allowed to leave their locker room … for at least four after the game, where they had to stay (with) masks on in the locker room.
And, as Silver later pointed out, the outrage is a bit overblown.
“Again, I understand from a public health standpoint why some people reacted the way they did, but I’d say from an NBA standpoint we were following directives,” Silver said. “And I’d add on top of that, as much credit the NBA for being a first-mover here… But, but for the fact we had tested Rudy Gobert, I mean there is a chance we were playing for several more days.
“… I understand there are many sides to these issues, but I also think that by virtue of an NBA player being tested and the kind of attention it brought, my sense was especially among young people in the United States, people were not taking these protocols all that seriously until the NBA did what it did.”
You can watch his full response here: