As the Portland Trail Blazers gear up for an eighth consecutive playoff run, the team will have a disadvantage relative to the rest of the league: No fans.
As of May 4th, the Trail Blazers are the only NBA franchise to not have any fans allowed at home games.
In fact, it appeared that would change soon with accommodations being prepared at Moda Center to welcome back Rip City in a limited capacity before Oregon governor Kate Brown increased the county’s risk level back to extreme.
Monday, numerous Trail Blazers tweeted their disapproval at the current predicament including franchise stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Even Lakers forward Jared Dudley responded to Dame saying it's unfair for the Blazers to still play in front of empty arenas.
At least CJ was able to still crack some jokes, though.
As for other teams in the Portland area, the Timbers and Thorns have previously welcomed back fans at a limited capacity. But that's no longer allowed after Brown's decision. Attempts to gain an exemption were denied by Brown.
Oregon ranks 12th in the United States in infections per 100,000 people at 19 per The New York Times. There are seven NBA teams who play home games in states with higher COVID-19 rates than Oregon and all seven have hosted fans this season.
In California, leagues such as the MLS and MLB have set up sections of fans that are fully vaccinated for LAFC, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
All Oregon residents over the age of 16 are eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine and over half of the nation's adults have received at least one shot. However, despite the vaccine becoming widely available, The New York Times reported "there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable" due to hesitancy to get the vaccine.
"Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers," wrote Apoorva Mandavilli.