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Sports Other News 19 Mar 2020 NBA chief defends le ...

NBA chief defends league over virus tests for 'wealthy'

Published Mar 19, 2020, 9:27 am IST
Updated Mar 19, 2020, 9:27 am IST
He says NBA has only been following the recommendations of public health officials
Drive-in test centres outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. AP Photo
 Drive-in test centres outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. AP Photo

Los Angeles: NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended the league's swift testing of players for the new coronavirus on Wednesday as the vast majority of Americans face long waits to be tested for the disease.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed NBA teams for being able to access COVID-19 tests after it emerged four members of the Brooklyn Nets, including superstar Kevin Durant had tested positive.


Several NBA teams including the Nets, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers have been tested for the illness in private facilities despite shortages of testing kits.

"We wish them a speedy recovery," de Blasio said of the Nets players in a post on Twitter. "But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.

"Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

In an interview with ESPN on Wednesday, Silver said a total of eight NBA teams had undergone tests. But while Silver acknowledged de Blasio's criticism, he defended the decision to test players, saying the NBA was acting on advice of public health authorities.

"I, of course, understand his point in that it is unfortunate we are in this position that it's triage when it comes to testing, so the fundamental issue obviously is that there are insufficient tests," Silver said.

"I'd only say in the case of the NBA is that we've been following the recommendations of public health officials."

US authorities have come under fire for lagging behind in deploying test kits, which health experts have said allowed the virus to spread beyond the country's ability to detect it.