The Sixers had no players test positive for the coronavirus during the NBA’s Phase 2 protocol, Brett Brown said Wednesday in a video call with reporters.
Brown also said none of the Sixers’ active and healthy players have opted against traveling to Orlando for the planned resumption of the 2019-20 season. Zhaire Smith has a bone bruise in his left knee and is out for the remainder of the season, meaning the Sixers should have as many as 16 players available.
“We’re figuring out with this restriction we have as far as staffing and players, who ultimately is going to end up going to Orlando,” Brown said. “We’re pretty close to knowing 100 percent. ... Nobody has tested positive, and certainly nobody has put their hand up to feel like they don’t want to go.”
The NBA and NBPA announced Friday that there were 16 positive tests out of the 302 players in the initial stage of mandatory testing. The Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan, the Kings’ Jabari Parker and Alex Len and the Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon are among the players who have publicly acknowledged testing positive for COVID-19.
Mandatory individual workouts began Wednesday. The Sixers are scheduled to arrive in Orlando on July 9, and their first of eight seeding games is set for Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers.
Brown was asked about the health and safety challenges the NBA faces as it attempts to conclude the season despite a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, and specifically about his own perspective as a 59-year-old man. The CDC has said that the risk of severe illnesses from the coronavirus increases with age. Approximately eight out of 10 documented coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have been among those 65 and older.
Instead of focusing on himself, Brown took that as an opportunity to give his opinion on the responsibility to adhere to certain regulations and best practices during the coronavirus pandemic, including wearing masks in public. In order to reduce the risk of transmission, the CDC has recommended that everyone over two years old wears a face mask in public.
All of us will judge, do people wear a mask or not? Let’s just go there,” he said. “I think it’s a statement, when you’re in public and you’re trying to be responsible — there’s a responsibility that we all have. Is it arrogant or rude (to not wear a mask)? I think a little bit. And so, all of us, we make a statement — what do we think? The world as I see it is still a little bit too bulletproof for all of us. My brother-in-law has been with the World Health Organization and Red Cross and Doctors without Borders for three decades. He’s positioned in Madrid, Spain. He’s responsible for Southeast Asia. And so you’re really curious about, ‘Hey, how do you see the world?’
“We all kind of lean on (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director) Dr. (Anthony) Fauci and we’ve all got our sources, and what do we think? … Of course, we’re all going to Orlando with a responsibility. We have to. We have some level of — going back to my phrase with basketball — appropriate fear. … It’s on all of us to do, let’s just call it the right thing, the smart thing, in order to create what the safest environment is. Will people do that to the level that I’m saying? Probably not.
In discussing players who might be tempted to leave Disney World and seek a respite from that isolated environment, Brown was hopeful that caution about the larger risks and potential consequences would be the overriding priority.
“I hope that there is a true recognition of the severity of doing that,” he said. “There needs to be a selfless approach to all of this, which really kind of epitomizes team sacrifice, doesn’t it?”
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