NBA Season Opener Scrapped Due to COVID

Houston Rockets didn't have 8 healthy players
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 23, 2020 6:50 PM CST
NBA Season Opener Scrapped Due to COVID
Houston Rockets guard James Harden, top center, joins the huddle during the fourth quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Houston.   (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Houston's opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night was scrapped after coronavirus cases and James Harden's violation of the NBA's COVID-19 protocols left the Rockets without the league-mandated eight players available. It was a dispiriting blow to the NBA on just the second night of an uncertain season launching with the pandemic still raging, the AP reports. The NBA announced the postponement in a release that said three Rockets players had returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive and that four other players were quarantined because of contract tracing. The release also said that Harden was unavailable for the game because of a violation of health and safety protocols after video of the star surfaced on social media where he was without a mask at a crowded party in a private event space Tuesday night.

The NBA’s announcement indicated that Harden being found in violation of the protocols was the determining factor in the Rockets not having the eight necessary players to play. Already a distraction to the team amid months of rumors that he wants to be traded. Harden’s latest move potentially threatened the health and safety of his team and kept the Rockets from beginning their season. The NBA’s health and safety protocols for this season make it very clear: players are not allowed to attend large indoor social gatherings (meaning 15 or more people); bars, lounges, clubs and similar establishments; live performance venues and other such places. Harden, according to the protocols, may now be ordered into quarantine, and could lose about $280,000 for each game missed.

(Read more NBA stories.)

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