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NY mayor irate over Nets players receiving COVID-19 tests before the ‘sick’

Four Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Durant, have tested positive for COVID-19, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio believes the news exposes a fundamental flaw in how the country is approaching the coronavirus pandemic.

In a tweet issued Tuesday, de Blasio bemoaned how NBA players are receiving tests before “critically ill patients,” adding that “[t]ests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.” The mayor did also state that he wishes the diagnosed Nets players “a speedy recovery.”

The Nets received the tests by paying a private company out of pocket, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, but that has not prevented the NBA from being criticized for the arguably disconcerting optics of the situation.

In response, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass attempted to do some damage control amid de Blasio’s complaints by laying out why the Nets players were tested.

“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 told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. “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 CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.”

It merits noting that de Blasio himself has been the target of criticism for some of his actions amid the coronavirus outbreak. Still, it’s clear that the NBA recognizes that the fact players are receiving tests despite a widespread lack of availability of them exposes the league to arguably unfavorable press.