Coronavirus: Lakers announce two players have tested positive for COVID-19

Two Los Angeles Lakers players tested positive for the coronavirus, the team has confirmed. The names of the players were not made public and they are in midst of a 14-day self-quarantine. 

The tests were taken by the Lakers on Wednesday and were administered entirely within the players’ cars, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Lakers took the tests after superstar Kevin Durant and three other members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. The Lakers were the last team to play the Nets before the season was indefinitely suspended, as Brooklyn bested Los Angeles 104-102 last Tuesday night.

The Lakers released the following statement on Thursday: 

Following four Brooklyn Nets players testing positive for COVID-19, because Los Angeles Lakers’ players were exposed to them during our game against the Nets on March 10, our team physicians and public health officials recommended coronavirus testing for the players.

We learned today that two Lakers players have tested positive. Both players are currently asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of the team’s physician.

All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team.

The health and well-being of our players, our organization, our fans, and all those potentially impacted by this situation is paramount. As always, we appreciate the support of our fans, family and friends, and wish everyone affected by this virus a speedy recovery.  

The list of NBA members to test positive for the virus continues to grow. As of Thursday, there have been 14 confirmed or reported cases spanning seven different teams. According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, eight of the league’s 30 teams have undergone team-wide testing. The teams that are publicly known are the Jazz, ThunderRaptorsNets, Lakers and Sixers. The Raptors came back with negative test results.

While some have been frustrated with the ease with which NBA teams seem to be acquiring the tests considering its lack of widespread availability, NBA spokesman Mike Bass made the argument to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that testing players across the league’s landscape is essential. 

“Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players’ direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus,” Bass said. “Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive. Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.” 

NBA team facilities will reportedly be closed to players and team staff beginning on Friday in order to try to curb the outbreak of the virus. During this time, players are able to travel outside of the city where they play, but they must remain in the country. Despite this, Silver remains optimistic that the season can still be salvaged, to an extent. 

“I’m optimistic by nature, and I want to believe we’re gonna be able to salvage at least some portion of the season,” Silver said. “Again, I’d say we’ve done new and creative things in the past, we experimented with this year’s All-Star Game with a unique ending, we’ve talked about play-in tournaments for going into the playoffs, there may be other things we can do with the format. I know I’ve heard from a lot of our players. It’s been less than a week, they’re going stir crazy, they want to play, they want to compete.. We’re gonna try by every means we can to play basketball again, but the safety and health of our players and fans is first.” 

While a return to basketball this season would be great, it’s obviously secondary to the health and safety of the teams, players and fans. The NBA will certainly explore all possible avenues when it comes to getting back on the floor, but the situation is fluid, and something that the league can’t control. Like everyone else, they just have to hope that the virus can be curbed in a timely manner. 

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