Wizards do not blame NBA for COVID-19 outbreak after close calls originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
As the Wizards monitor what has become the NBA's most widespread COVID-19 outbreak of the 2020-21 season so far, a natural question asked by many is who is to blame. Though the Wizards are the team with the most positive cases, their outbreak occurred after a series of close calls involving opponents they faced in recent games.
Beginning with their Jan. 3 win over the Nets, the Wizards had four straight games where opposing players either tested positive or entered league protocol the very next day. Seth Curry of the Sixers and Jayson Tatum of the Celtics were among the players who tested positive.
One way or another, it caught up to the Wizards and their luck ran out. If one wanted to assign blame, they could possibly look at the league and the decision to let the teams keep playing despite the multiple scares.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, though, isn't interested in pointing fingers.
"You certainly don't blame anyone. This is a circumstance that is out of everyone's control. The NBA and the union have tried to do the very best job they can of keeping everybody safe and healthy," he said.
"It is a moving target. Things change sometimes drastically overnight. The schedule is the schedule, you can't pick and choose [who you play]."
The Wizards' close calls really date back to Dec. 30 when they played the Chicago Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back. It was that day news broke that several Bulls players had entered protocol, one day after playing Washington for the first time this season.
By now, nearly half the league has been affected in one way or the other, with over a dozen games being postponed. The Wizards have had four games postponed already.
"You just know inevitably something is going to be your turn and this was our turn, unfortunately. We took a couple of punches for sure," Sheppard said.
The Wizards were supposed to play the Jazz on Wednesday, the Pistons on Friday and the Cavs this Sunday and Monday. Now, they will have to make those games up later in the season. The league only released the first half of the schedule to maintain some wiggle room for games to be moved.
As Sheppard explained, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was transparent about this part of the calendar being a particularly difficult stretch. Covid has spread rampantly across the United States and the world, and there were warnings about it getting worse during the winter months as more people stayed inside and in close contact with others. There were also more people gathering during the holidays.
The Wizards' outbreak has now happened about two weeks after the holidays wrapped up, which was a time many predicted a surge.
"We knew it was gonna happen, we sure didn't know it was gonna happen to us. We can't look backwards. You definitely just have to keep looking forward. You have to keep the spirit and the camaraderie around the league that we're all in this together," Sheppard said.