Houston Rockets

Russell Westbrook tests positive for coronavirus before entering Orlando bubble

Russell Westbrook tests positive for coronavirus before entering Orlando bubble

Russell Westbrook announced via Twitter on Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Rockets' departure for the league's Walt Disney World bubble, and that he is currently quarantined.

"I tested positive for covid-19 prior to my teams departure to Orlando. I'm currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared," Westbrook said in a statement. "Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up! #whynot"

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As NBC Sports NBA insider Tom Haberstroh noted, Westbrook is the fourth 2019-20 All-Star to publicly disclose testing positive for COVID-19, along with Donovan Mitchell, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert, whose positive test shut the league down on March 11. Westbrook's teammate James Harden is also reportedly not currently with the team in Orlando, but there hasn't been official word on why.

All 22 teams participating in the season restart arrived in Orlando by July 9, and practices tipped off over the weekend. Inter-squad scrimmages are set to begin July 22, and the eight-game regular season resolution on July 30.

Per the NBA's Health and Safety protocols, Westbrook will need to isolate until he is asymptomatic, produces two negative PCR tests 24 hours apart, and passes a medical evaluation by an NBA-designated consulting infectious disease physician before rejoining the Rockets for team activities in the bubble. He'll also undergo cardiac screening before returning to play.

And as if all of that wasn't enough for Houston, ESPN reported Monday that Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo (accidentally) broke quarantine guidelines.

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Could the '90s Bulls have completed an eight-peat? Steve Kerr says no

USA Today

Could the '90s Bulls have completed an eight-peat? Steve Kerr says no

As months, years and decades tick off the calendar, it’s easy to remember Michael Jordan as invincible. Six trips to the Finals, six victories and six Finals MVPs over the course of eight years — all in Bulls red — have a lot to do with that.

Those title-less years, of course, were sandwiched in the middle of two three-peats when Jordan embarked on a hiatus to try to become a professional baseball player before the 1993-94 season. 

It begs the question: Had Jordan stuck around, could the Bulls have ripped off eight straight?

That topic was broached to many who were in the league at the time in a recent feature from David Aldridge and Michael Lee of The Athletic. The verdict? Fat chance.

“A lot of people they say that and it’s amazing because they act like (a Bulls-Rockets Finals) couldn’t have happened. Orlando beat them,” former Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon told The Athletic. “He was playing (in 1995). He missed a year. They say he missed two years, but he lost in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference.”

Understandable that Olajuwon would come down on that side of the debate. Even hypothesizing that Jordan’s Bulls could have completed an ‘eight-peat’ is inherently dismissive of Olajuwon’s Rockets, which won both the titles that separated the Bulls’ three-peats. In the feature, Kenny Smith added his voice to Olajuwon's, saying unequivocally that Houston had the better team that year.

And they have a point: Jordan did return in advance of the 1994-95 playoffs and led the Bulls to a 13-4 finish to the regular season before falling in six games to Orlando — led by a young Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway — in the Eastern semis.

Some might attribute that show of mortality to Jordan still finding his footing back in basketball. Jordan’s adversaries have no reason to address that argument, and rightfully so. 

But even one of his old teammates, Steve Kerr, seems to agree.

Said Kerr to The Athletic:

“Sometimes people say to me, ‘If Michael had stayed, you guys would’ve won eight in a row.’ That’s the most preposterous thing I have ever heard. People have no idea how emotionally draining it is for a team to keep winning.”

“To me, the reason we won the second three was because he got away and recharged his batteries… He needed it, desperately. And that’s why he left. He was just burned out. There were all of these theories: Did David Stern tell him you can’t play? Like, yeah, that would be very smart – the greatest player ever and we’re going to punish him for gambling or whatever? What are we even talking about? That’s dumb. All of those conspiracy theories were dumb. Bottom line was, he was fried. Going through a lot with his father’s death. Just getting away for two years, recharged his batteries and got him ready for the next three.”

Pretty airtight case, especially coming from Kerr. Not only did he know Jordan personally as a teammate, Kerr again experienced the rigors of sustaining a dynasty as coach of the Warriors in the mid-2010s.

With the experts all aligning, perhaps we can put this age-old debate to bed, and appreciate what we did get from Jordan: A still unprecedented run of dominance, and a lifetime of memories.

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Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley's path to the NBA was an intriguing one, a true story of perseverance featuring many twists and turns. For those who haven't closely followed Beverley's career, the Chicago native and current Los Angeles Clipper had a three-year career overseas before he really caught on in the NBA, landing a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets in 2013. Before landing with the Rockets, Beverley played for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine), Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece), Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) before landing in Houston.

But a lesser-known fact is that Beverley actually spent time practicing with the Bulls within the first two years of his overseas basketball career. 

On Saturday's episode of "The Woj Pod" hosted by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Beverley discussed the importance of glue guys, Kris Dunn's season and much more. One of the more interesting tidbits was the aforementioned workouts with the Bulls. Beverley responded to a Woj question about if he could've played with the Bulls had things gone differently earlier in his career:

I worked in the summertime with the Bulls, I don't know, two-three years in a row, Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense...

Beverley elicited laughter from the crowd, but he is clearly (and some would say rightfully) still upset by those who didn't give him an opportunity along the way. He went on to say that there is a "dynamic that fans don't know" and "can only assume." In the interview, Beverley didn't give a specific year but he says "two-three years" and clearly states that Del Negro was the head coach, meaning that he likely scrimmaged with the Bulls at points during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

When you take a closer look at those rosters, the possible matchups Beverley had are incredibly interesting to think about. The 2009 Bulls had nine players scoring in double figures — and a 10th scoring 9.9 points per game in Kirk Hinrich — and the 2010 Bulls had six players scoring in double figures.

Beverley could have matched up against Larry Hughes (12.0 PPG in '09), John Salmons (career-high 18.3 PPG in '09), Ben Gordon (20.7 PPG in '09), or even Derrick Rose (18.7 PPG from 2008-10). Gordon and Rose, especially, could make any defender look bad on his best day, so maybe Del Negro's mistake wasn't as egregious as it appears now. Either way, Beverley certainly hasn't forgotten the slight. 

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