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Kevin Durant among four Nets with COVID-19

Infected players remain isolated and under care of team physicians

March 18, 2020 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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The Brooklyn Nets revealed Tuesday afternoon that four of their players, including superstar Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the coronavirus less than a week after the league suspended play due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.

“Four Brooklyn Nets players have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” read a team-issued statement.

“Of the four, one player is exhibiting symptoms while three are asymptomatic. All four players are presently isolated and under the care of team physicians.”

The remaining three players that tested positive have not yet been revealed, but Durant is not believed to be the player exhibiting symptoms at this time.

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Acquired this past summer during General Manager Sean Marks’ free-agent windfall, Durant is a former league Most Valuable Player, two-time NBA Finals MVP and arguably the best player in the sport.

The 31-year-old Washington, D.C., native has not logged a single minute for the Nets this season as he is still recovering from an Achilles injury suffered during last year’s NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors.

But Durant did travel and practice with the Nets on their recent West Coast swing, which was cancelled last Wednesday when the NBA suspended its season indefinitely.

When the Nets returned from San Francisco, where they were slated to play the Warriors last Thursday, the team was tested back here in Brooklyn, reportedly by a private company that the franchise paid out of pocket, according to an ESPN report.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine,” Durant told The Athletic Tuesday evening. “We’re going to get through this.”

The Nets, who were in seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 30-34 record, drew some criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, decrying their ability to receive tests while others in less fortunate and more dire circumstances were still waiting.

“We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should not get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” de Blasio said in a tweet.

“Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”

Utah’s Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive last week, prompting the league’s shutdown, before teammate Donovan Mitchell and Detroit’s Christian Wood also contracted the virus, which has affected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, resulting in over 8,000 deaths.

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass defended the league’s decision for rapid COVID-19 testing when it was revealed that 58 members of the Jazz organization received tests after Gobert was infected.

“Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players’ direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus,’’ Bass said in a statement.

“Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive. Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow C.D.C. recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.”

It will be awhile, if at all this season, before the Brooklyn Nets return to action at Downtown’s Barclays Center. Photo: Kathy Willens/AP

The Nets are doing their due diligence to make sure those who came in contact with the four players on their roster who tested positive are informed and taking the necessary precautions.

“The organization is currently notifying anyone who has had known contact with the players, including recent opponents, and is working closely with state and local health authorities on reporting,” the Nets’ statement read.

“All players and members of the Nets travel party are being asked to remain isolated, closely monitor their health and maintain constant communication with team medical staff. The health of our players and staff is of the highest priority to the organization and the team is doing everything within its power to ensure that those affected receive the best care possible.”

While the league remains in limbo, along with Major League Baseball, the NHL and virtually every pro and amateur sporting league worldwide, there is a chance that the Nets could return to the Brooklyn hardwood as soon as mid-June, according to several published reports.

However, this isn’t a time to anticipate when sports will be back in full gear.

Instead, those in the Brooklyn community and around the world are wondering when they can feel a sense of safety and normalcy again in their everyday lives.

“As always, we appreciate the support of our fans, partners and surrounding community, and we wish all those who are battling this virus a speedy recovery,” the Nets’ statement closed.

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