Just hours before the NBA All-Star Game, Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were ruled out due to Covid contact tracing concerns.
The exposure’s initial cause was due to a haircut that took place before the pair left Philadelphia. The barber who cut the two all-stars’ hair tested positive for Covid and was re-tested this morning to confirm that he had the virus.
Doc Rivers mentioned in his zoom availability he first got wind of their potential to be ruled out last night and had been on and off the phone with the NBA all morning. At the time of the call, Rivers put it that “it’s not looking great, but I don’t know enough information,” but the Philadelphia 76ers’ pair of all-stars were ruled out shortly after.
This lack of contact with the other all-stars prevented what could have been a potential break-out. Early reports indicate no other people at risk of transmission as Simmons and Embiid each took a private jet and had no exposure to people before entering the Atlanta bubble.
What Does This Mean?
The first real takeaway from this is that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will be robbed of their fourth and third all-star appearances. Regardless of the lack of competition in the actual game, it is an amazing experience to share with the other superstars of the league.
It is unclear the exact protocols that Embiid and Simmons will now enter. Still, for the time being, they will remain in isolation in their rooms in Atlanta. Further testing will occur, and the potential for them to miss time in the regular season is certainly on the table as the Sixers will return to play on March 11th for a matchup with the Chicago Bulls.
Many have also questioned the league’s decision to have an all-star game at all this season. Even with Simmons and Embiid following the exact league protocols, exposure still occurred. It could serve as a detriment to the Sixers season as a result. While it will be a great event once all players can retake the court, it is fair to question if there is a large amount of unnecessary risk taken on by allowing this game to occur.
The Lone Positive For the Philadelphia 76ers
On the positive side, Embiid and Simmons will not have to risk picking up an injury in a game that does not matter. Doc Rivers said in his press conference: “I jokingly told them I would play each of them 30 seconds.” Rivers continued saying that he would play other Eastern Conference stars 47+ minutes and mentioned Giannis in this category.
More details are still to come regarding the next step for Simmons and Embiid, but in the short-term, the all-star game will go on without them. Prayers up that each star will avoid contracting the disease, and each will be able to re-join the Sixers for the second half of the season once that time comes.