By Connor Thomas
Last night, the Sixers fell to the Atlanta Hawks in another forgettable game in which they were shorthanded. In lieu of writing a recap of a game that 1 – wasn’t all that interesting, and 2 – shouldn’t have been played in the first place, it has become a necessity to highlight the hypocrisy of the NBA’s COVID protocol enforcement and the unfair treatment the Philadelphia 76ers have endured over the past 5 days.
Let’s start back on the 7th of January, when the Sixers were lately notified of a positive COVID test for a player, Seth Curry, who was already on the bench and had been for the 1st quarter of an active NBA game. This led to a rapid quarantine postgame of the entire game, and multiple players being ruled out of upcoming contests as a result of contact tracing. The Sixers had a POSITIVE TEST. If you remember the opening night of the Houston Rockets’ season, their first game against Portland was postponed, not because of a positive test, but because James Harden was seen at a club without a mask and that led to a trigger of contact tracing and COVID ineligibilities. The Rockets did not play that game. The Sixers, who had a player who made it to the bench during a game test positive just 2 days prior, were forced to play their January 9th game against the Denver Nuggets with only the minimum required 8 players active, one of them being an injured Mike Scott who did not play. Where the Rockets got a break, the Sixers were not afforded one in an arguably more serious situation.
But this isn’t where the inconsistency ends. The very next night, on January 10th, the Boston Celtics had an issue with a positive test and contact tracing. They were down to 8 available players prior to playing their game against the Miami Heat. The NBA postponed that contest as a result of the outbreak. Teams before and after the Sixers were forced to play had now gotten breaks. Then, on January 11th, more hell broke loose as the Dallas Mavericks had a COVID issue that resulted in less than 8 players being eligible to play. Remember, the Sixers had to dress an injured player to reach the 8 man minimum. That Mavericks-New Orleans Pelicans game? You guessed it. Postponed. The Celtics have since had their game tonight against the Chicago Bulls postponed and the league has set a meeting with the Board of Governors for later today to address the multiple cancellations.
It is very clear that the league has shown bias against the Sixers for some reason. Whether it is left over anger for the process, which saw the league forcibly remove Sam Hinkie from his General Manager post, or some other underlying issue with the team, it has become apparent that the league does not care to afford the Sixers the same protection as the other teams in the association, and it is costing them valuable games.