Two players on the Lakers have tested positive for COVID-19, or the coronavirus, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that the team may test the rest of its roster that didn’t already receive one on Wednesday morning.
The majority of Lakers players — but not all of them, and not coaches and other staff — were tested for the coronavirus on Wednesday by driving up to the practice facility and never leaving their cars, likely through the use of a private testing firm.
The players have not been named, but according to JaVale McGee's sister, he is not one of them them. Neither is Quinn Cook, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Jared Dudley came out on the radio and said that he also did not test positive.
The Lakers confirmed the report in a statement shortly after Charania’s report, saying that both players are not displaying symptoms, are quarantined and are under the care of team physicians.
“All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team,” the statement reads.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the team will now test more people in the organization who had “close contact with players.” The Lakers’ practice facility is shut down, and employees are being told to work remotely.
This is the latest blow in a season that has — despite it’s success on the court — been as full of heartbreak, trials and tribulations as any Lakers campaign in recent memory.
There was the team’s scary situation abroad in China, when it wasn’t clear what was going to happen as the Chinese government reacted to Houston executive Daryl Morey’s criticism while the Lakers were in China for two preseason games against the Nets. Then there was the paralyzing grief the entire organization had to endure when Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others passed away in a tragic helicopter accident, and now there is coronavirus — a worsening threat in the country and world — hitting home within the organization.
That’s not to compare any of these events, but between all of this, it feels safe to say that no professional sports team in recent memory has ever gone through as difficult of a season as this one.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday morning that 56% of Californians are expected to be infected with this virus over the next eight weeks. So, statistically, it should have always been predictable that someone employed by the Lakers would test positive. Still, such knowledge doesn’t make the news any less jarring or anxiety-inducing when it finally hits someone you know. And anyone reading this blog feels like they know the Lakers pretty well.
Let’s all hope they can make as speedy a recovery as possible, and that they don’t infect anyone else. Hopefully this is a reminder of how seriously we all have to take this threat, and how vigilant we need to be.
As far as the NBA as a whole, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was the first player to test positive for the coronavirus, soon followed by his teammate Donovan Mitchell. Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons later also tested positive, followed by four Brooklyn Nets (including Kevin Durant). The Lakers played the Nets on March 10, their final game before the NBA season was suspended due to the threat of coronavirus. After this Lakers news was announced, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart announced he had also tested positive.
One member of the Denver Nuggets organization and three members of the Sixers organization also tested positive for the coronavirus, but it’s not clear if they were a player, coach, or other type of staffer.
The NBA has said it is suspending its season for at least 30 days due to the coronavirus threat. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he hopes the league will get to finish the season, and reports have said that a mid-June return is the “best-case” scenario for the league, if it comes back this season at all. But as has been continuously written in this space, the more players that test positive for this virus, the harder it is to see that happening.
This story may be updated with more information.