PHOENIX — It appears the Phoenix Suns were dealing with more than the Dallas Mavericks during the 2022 Western Conference semifinals.
Six people, including a player, were reportedly dealing with positive COVID-19 tests either late in the series or during Game 7, sources told The Athletic.
A startling revelation after the Suns' 123-90 defeat at the hands of the Mavericks.
According to the report, the player in question tested positive the day after Game 7. Due to the outbreak the, Suns were unable to hold season-ending exit meetings at their practice facility.
Sam Amick, who co-authored The Athletic’s story with Joe Vardon, told 12 Sports’ Lina Washington that the Dallas Mavericks started to hear rumblings about the Suns dealing with something COVID-related as early as Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.
The NBA requires all team personnel, regardless of vaccination status, to test for COVID if they are experiencing symptoms. They're not allowed to play, coach or be at team facilities if they test positive. It was reported that Suns assistant coach Bryan Gates missed Game 7 after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
“There’s a lot of room to bend the rules if teams get competitive and don’t want to test,” Amick said. “The only thing we [The Athletic] got absolute clarity on was that the player tested positive after Game 7.”
With the news of this incident, questions have been raised internally about whether the team followed the league’s rules for testing.
The day after Game 7, the Suns conducted exit interviews exclusively over Zoom following a full season of in-person media availability. At this time it’s unknown which Suns player tested positive but Amick says the situation is raising questions about how the Suns managed this outbreak with their season hanging in the balance.
“I think part of this Suns situation was people internally asking others ‘are we doing the right thing?’” Amick said. “Because of course the 25 or 30-year-old NBA player most likely is going to be fine but if you’re a staff member who then takes it home to a family member, you’re going to have a hard time looking yourself in the mirror. Those were the conversations happening internally and it seemed pretty tense.”
The Suns declined to comment and have publicly responded to The Athletic’s report but Amick says the team maintains it did not breach NBA protocols.
For the full report, head over to The Athletic website.
The city of Phoenix is home to five major professional sports league teams; The NFL's Arizona Cardinals, NBA's Phoenix Suns, WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks and NHL's Arizona Coyotes.
The Cardinals have made the State Farm Stadium in Glendale their home turf and the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix is home to both the Suns and the Mercury. The Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers also play at the Footprint. Phoenix has a soccer team with the USL's Phoenix Rising FC.
The Valley hosts multiple major sporting events on a yearly basis, including college football's Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl; the PGA Tour’s highest-attended event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open; NASCAR events each spring and fall; and Cactus League Spring Training.
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