Bob Myers on testing: “We’re treating ourselves like people. We’re not better than anybody.”

NYC mayor Bill de Blasio put the NBA under the spotlight with a tweet criticizing the fact the Brooklyn Nets all got tested as a precaution while there are critically ill patients waiting still waiting for their tests. Nets and Thunder officials defended their organizations by saying they got the tests in private facilities and paid out of pocket, not to burden the public healthcare system.

Your mileage may vary with this explanation, but there are other ways of doing things, and the Golden State Warriors are proof. The Warriors were scheduled to play the Nets in San Francisco on the night the league suspended the season. The game didn’t happen, but it’s possible that players from both teams spent time together that night, mainly because Kevin Durant was in town with the Nets. Durant and several other Brooklyn players tested positive, meaning the Warriors can reasonably suspect they could be infected.

But unlike other NBA teams, the Warriors didn’t test anyone yet. As recommended by public health officials, particularly in a time where testing is in low supply, the Warriors are not testing asymptomatic team members or staff (asymptomatic means they are not presenting any symptoms of the disease: fever, tiredness, cough, shortness of breath.) Everyone is put in self-isolation and has to monitor for these symptoms; they get tested only if they start experiencing several of those.

“We’ve been told that the testing is in short supply and we’re treating ourselves like people, which is what we are. We’re not better than anybody, not worse. Just a basketball team. … I’ve been told by our doctors, medical community, we shouldn’t be testing asymptomatic people at this point in California. … We’ve been told there’s not enough tests to do that.”

Bob Myers, via The Athletic

In translation, once Gobert tested positive, everyone who was in contact could’ve gone into self-isolation as soon as possible and monitor their symptoms. If they show symptoms within two weeks, they get a test and find out if they have the disease. That way, they are responsible towards themselves, people around them AND the Jazz don’t use up 60% of the state of Oklahoma’s daily testing capability and 20% of their total testing supply at that time. There was a way to do this more responsibility towards the community, but it wasn’t as convenient.

To be fair, Adam Silver was on The Jump last night and addressed this criticism. Silver said that the decision to test all the Jazz players was not made at the request of the Utah Jazz, but by an Oklahoma public health official. The following tests, as explained by Silver, were according to protocols developed with medical experts.

I’m going to take Commissioner Silver at his best and trust him the Jazz had no choice. But for all other testings, the protocol was developed beforehand with medical experts telling them the possibly best case scenario. It was still within the NBA’s right, as we see with the Warriors, to say that only people with symptoms should get tested, and everyone else remains in self-isolation. The NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said she was “disappointed” in the criticism players have been getting for getting tested.

“There’s nothing irresponsible — if you’ve got that information [that you’ve been exposed] — about trying to get the tests.”

Michelle Roberts, via ESPN

If you know some people need tests more than you do, and you are not in critical condition or even presenting any symptoms – yes, it’s irresponsible. Roberts talked about the responsibility of the Federal Government and their failure to make sure there are enough testing capabilities for everyone, and I fully agree with that. That’s the central issue in the United States right now, and no-one should be held responsible as much as those at the top.

But if you talk about your love of fans, appreciating the community you play in, and the importance of everyone taking care of each other, then you can’t pick convenience and be “disappointed” that you are getting criticized. We are capable of saying the Federal Government has failed us, and the NBA in this regard disappointed us. That doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge and appreciate everything else the players and the league did so far. We can hold more than one thought at the same time.


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