'Worst nightmare': Ben Simmons absence fuels NBA All-Star outrage

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were both late scratchings from the NBA All-Star game after they were forced into quarantine. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were both late scratchings from the NBA All-Star game after they were forced into quarantine. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Players have continued to question the wisdom of the NBA All-Star game going ahead after Philadelphia 76ers duo Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were ruled out of the game, forced into quarantine under the league's contact tracing policy.

In what was described as 'the NBA's worst nightmare' by high-profile NBA journalist Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons and Embiid were forced into quarantine after a barber both players regularly see tested positive to COVID-19.

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"Prior to traveling to Atlanta, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had contact with an individual who is confirmed today to have tested positive for the coronavirus," the league said Sunday.

Embiid would have been a starter for Team (Kevin) Durant, which will be coached by Philadelphia's Doc Rivers.

The late scratching of the pair led to another chorus of fans and NBA reporters questioning the wisdom of hosting an exhibition game as the US continues to struggle with the pandemic, as well as constraints on the league's regular season.

"The NBA's worst nightmare in Atlanta has been an outbreak among the best players in the world," Wojnarowski tweeted. 

"Embiid and Simmons didn't have contact w/ peers there. In the instance involving the two Sixers stars, players have been kept in contact tracing and quarantine for 7 days this season."

Speaking to media ahead of the All-Star game, 76ers coach Rivers was not happy about his two star players now potentially missing regular season games after the break.

“The last thing we need is an outbreak to start the second half. I mean it looks like we may be having one as a team," Rivers said.

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NBA players voice frustration over All-Star game

The NBA's players have been vocal in questioning the necessity of hosting the All-Star game when the league's regular season and playoffs stand delicately poised on players being able to avoid unnecessary contact.

LA Clippers forward Paul George openly declared his position that the game shouldn't have been held during his media availability on Sunday.

"You have situations like we are dealing with today, it's just an unfortunate time in the world where our health and safety should be at the front of the helm," George said.

"I personally didn't agree with the game, but it is what it is."

The 2021 NBA All-Star game has gone ahead, despite multiple players voicing their concerns over whether or not it was necessary. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
The 2021 NBA All-Star game has gone ahead, despite multiple players voicing their concerns over whether or not it was necessary. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Washington Wizards rival Bradley Beal echoed George's sentiments to an extent, saying that the main reason he was taking part was because he was obliged to under the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players.

"I don’t wanna say we didn’t have a choice, but it’s in our CBA. In our CBA, it says that there has to be an All-Star Game every year," Beal said.

"It's a lotta language in there that can kinda get ugly if we don't necessarily come down and go through with the All-Star game.

"So there's guys still reserved about it, I'm sure. I'm reserved about it.

"I'm trying to stay healthy and rest as much as I possibly can, because we jump right back into the season right after this." 

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