Kevin Durant was held out the Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup on Friday night minutes before tip-off against the Toronto Raptors under the league’s health and safety protocol. Durant was then allowed to enter the game with just over four minutes left in the first quarter. The superstar forward played 19 minutes and scored 10 points before he was pulled from the game again early in the third quarter due to the league’s health and safety protocol.
If that sounds confusing, now you know how Durant and the Brooklyn Nets feel. The Raptors would go on to win, 123-117, in a game that was overshadowed by the bizarre handling of Durant within in league protocol.
According to the NBA, Durant interacted with someone earlier in the day who later registered an inconclusive test. Durant was held out of the game while that case was being reviewed, but was allowed to return because there wasn’t a confirmed positive test. The confirmed positive test came early in the third quarter, and that’s when Durant was pulled again.
What makes this situation so frustrating for Durant is that he already had Covid-19 in March. Durant reportedly tested negative three times in the last 24 hours, but we still removed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Contact tracing is now underway to determine if he was in close contact with someone who tested positive. Durant tweeted this after the game:
Free me— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) February 6, 2021
Here’s the statement from the NBA:
Statement from NBA on Kevin Durant situation: pic.twitter.com/S6XvLUhAH2— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 6, 2021
This isn’t the first time Durant has been held out of games because of health and safety protocol after already having the virus nearly a year ago. Durant had to miss four games in January due to contact tracing and possible exposure.
What’s so frustrating about the league’s handling of Durant is that its actions don’t match its rhetoric. Why was Durant ever allowed to enter the game in the first place while the league was waiting for the positive test to be confirmed? If Durant actually did somehow contract the virus again because he was in close contact with a positive individual, he just now had close contact with his teammates, coaches, and Raptors players while he was deemed eligible to play.
Durant quote-tweeted our own Brian Floyd to express his frustration with the process.
His Nets teammates and coaches also said the situation was confusing and frustrating.
Steve Nash said that he was a bit "distracted" by the Durant yo-yo of being unavailable, then available, then unavailable due to health and safety protocols. Nash said he didn't handle the situation as well as he wanted to.— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 6, 2021
James Harden said that it was "frustrating" to have Durant off the court, then on, then off again. "I don't understand the whole thing where he couldn't play and then they took him off the court... it's overwhelming."— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 6, 2021
The backdrop of the Durant saga is the league’s decision to hold the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in March despite vocal opposition from LeBron James and other possible All-Stars. This NBA season continues to be far from normal outside of the bubble.