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Report: Season-high 10 NBA referees out, nine due to coronavirus protocols


PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 20: A detailed view of the NBA logo prior to the game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 20, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Celtics 117-109. 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. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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The NBA announces coronavirus rates among players weekly.

But they aren’t alone in traveling the country amid this pandemic then being on the court maskless during games.

Referees, with reduced travel but more commercial flights, are also dealing with coronavirus.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

Ten NBA referees, including veteran officials typically assigned to the NBA Finals, are sidelined because of issues related to COVID-19 and, in one case, an injury, a league official told ESPN.

That figure represents the highest of its kind to date in a season during which 24 referees have missed at least one game because of health and safety protocols, a league spokesman told ESPN.

Most of the absences have been tied to contact tracing, according to the spokesperson, who added that the league expects all 10 of the referees currently sidelined to be available for the playoffs, which start in less than a month.

Hopefully, these referees will recover swiftly. As vaccine rates increase, coronavirus concerns – including contact tracing – should decrease.

Until then, the NBA clearly has an issue. Holmes has more information about how the league is handling this referee shortage – especially as the playoffs approach.

But two things remain true, regardless of the underlying facts:

The NBA will defend its officials. Everyone else will complain about the refs.