Jayson Tatum has a first-hand account of the dangers of playing an NBA season during a global pandemic.
The Boston Celtics star tested positive for COVID-19 in early January and missed more than two weeks of action as he recovered from the virus. But Tatum didn't magically return to 100% once he returned to the court.
The 22-year-old said Tuesday he's had breathing issues and has struggled with his conditioning since his first game back from COVID-19 on Jan. 25.
"I think it messes with your breathing a little bit," Tatum told reporters in a video conference, as seen in the video player above. "I have experienced some games where, I don't want to say struggling to breathe, but you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal just running up and down the court a few times.
"It's easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster. I've noticed that since I've had COVID. It's gotten better since the first game I've played, but I still deal with it from time to time."
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease with symptoms that include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, so Tatum's experience isn't surprising. While many cases in the NBA have been mild, several athletes have experienced significant, sometimes lasting symptoms. Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, for example, developed myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle) after contracting COVID-19 and was forced to sit out the entire 2020 season.
While Tatum struggled Sunday against the Washington Wizards (six points on 3 of 14 shooting), he's still been able to play at an elite level, averaging 24.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists in his first 11 games back from COVID-19 protocols.
The long-term effects of COVID-19 aren't fully known, so it's unclear how the virus will impact Tatum throughout the season. But it's definitely a situation worth monitoring, and a reminder of the importance of following protocols to help slow the virus' spread.