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Rumor: Wizards feel Celtics to blame for team’s COVID outbreak

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson analyze the rosters for the men's and women's USA Basketball teams, explaining why they'll be tough to beat at the Tokyo Olympics.

Maybe no team was hit harder by COVID-19 this past season than the Wizards, who went a dozen days unable to play a game or even practice back in January because seven players tested positive for the coronavirus over a four-day span.

The Wizards blamed the Celtics — who they played on Jan. 8 — for their outbreak, according to NBA reporter Chris Mannix, while on NBC Sports Boston (as reported by OMF with a hat tip to WEEI).

“The Celtics were among the teams that I know of that didn’t take Covid seriously,” Mannix said. “They continued to go out on the road, and would find ways to skirt the rules at times when they were traveling. They didn’t take these protocols seriously — not as seriously as some other teams did. Washington, when they had all of their Covid issues back in January and early February, they blamed Boston. They complained to the league that the Celtics, because of what they had heard about players going out in Florida I believe it was, they believed they contracted their issues through the Celtics...

“Most of the league knew what was going on with the Celtics, and how they weren’t really taking these Covid protocols seriously,” Mannix said.

Two quick addendums to that. First, the Celtics will undoubtedly deny that their players broke the rules or any knowledge of that (of course, Danny Ainge denied hearing any Celtics players talk to him about racism in Boston, so take it all with a grain of salt). Second, it is impossible to say what led to the outbreak around the Wizards. It could have been the Celtics who exposed them, it could have happened against Miami (which Washington played the next night in a back-to-back), it could have happened because of an infected guy shagging balls at the practice facility, or someone at a hotel while on the road, or countless other places. There is no way to know for sure.

That said, this season wasn’t the bubble where rules could be strictly enforced. There was testing, there were checks, but in the end guys could find plenty of ways around the guidelines if they wanted. That was the risk the players took when they agreed to keep the big check coming and start playing again on Christmas.

It shouldn’t be a surprise some players and some teams took things far less seriously than others.