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Michele Roberts: Expect more NBA players to test positive for coronavirus

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 6: NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts speaks to the crowd as she takes part in the 2019 NBA Finals Cares Legacy Project as part of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 6, 2019 at the Ira Jinkins Recreation Center in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Seven NBA players – Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Pistons big Christian Wood and four Nets including Kevin Durant – have tested positive for coronavirus.

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, via Mark Medina of USA Today:

“A whole lot of us are going to test positive. Even if we aren’t positive, we got the virus. I don’t intend to disclose identities because there’s a stigma attached to that. But I certainly know there will be more players, more league staff and my own staff [that will be tested positive]. I was hearing the numbers that 40 to 50% of our population will be positive for the virus, whether or not we test for it.

”... Hearing about the players that tested positive and that their identities were disclosed upset me to no end. I was mortified any of our players would test positive. But the more I learned about the likelihood of fatalities among all of us given our ages and pre-existing conditions, I have learned to embrace the probability that many of our players will be positive for the virus.

Roberts, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

“I’m distressed if any player is distressed about having his name out there,” she said. “There is no stigma attached to testing positive for coronavirus. I’m probably positive for coronavirus if I’m tested. Most of us will. I’m now hearing 50% of the population is probably going to be infected. We need to stop being concerned about there being some stigma about being infected -- ‘Oh my God, he’s got the ‘rona.’

“That’s nonsense to worry about that. We need to worry about how we can contain it. My message to the players is, ‘Don’t for one second be embarrassed about it. There’s nothing embarrassing about it. This is not something that suggests you’ve done anything wrong. If you have it, now you know you need to be more careful in terms of your interactions.’”

You can see Roberts’ messaging evolve from her interview with Medina on Tuesday to her interview with Shelburne on Wednesday.

Her proclamation will make it even easier for the public to receive news of more NBA players diagnosed with coronavirus, which is important. Because more positive tests are coming.

Already, it’s likely more than seven NBA players have coronavirus. As testing becomes more available, those additional cases will become known.

Simultaneously, coronavirus is spreading throughout our society. More and more people are contracting it every day.

Gobert’s positive test was startling. But soon, it will no longer be shocking to learn someone contracted coronavirus. Hearing an NBA player did might get treated like hearing an NBA player sprained his ankle – worthy of an update, but not stopping the presses.