On Wednesday, the NBA announced that the Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at Toyota Center was postponed due to the fact that the Rockets couldn’t field at least eight players.
First, the Rockets had three positive or inconclusive tests on the team, according to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. The players have been determined to be Kenyon Martin Jr. and Ben McLemore, which Jeremy Brener of The Dream Shake pointed out earlier today.
The bigger bombshell, is that franchise player James Harden was reported to be at a night club recently. While some reports and social media videos have claimed that he was at a gentleman’s club (a/k/a a strip club), he has denied that. Since NBA players are not allowed to play if they broke these rules, he won’t be playing.
James Harden is unavailable due to a violation of the health and safety Protocols, NBA says. Three Rockets have returned positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests. Four others are quarantined due to contact tracing. https://t.co/K600Zr16DC— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 23, 2020
With the positive tests, four more Rockets players are quarantining due to contact tracing. They include Jae’Sean Tate, DeMarcus Cousins and Wizards alumnus John Wall. (It’s still strange calling Wall a Wizards alum).
Unlike Washington, D.C. proper, Texas, the state where the Rockets are based, allows nightclubs and bars to open, even as cases continue to rise. In addition, the team will allow fans at the Toyota Center this season at a capacity of approximately 25 percent, or 4.500 people. according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
This is not unexpected. States or jurisdictions with mostly Democratic Party leadership, like D.C. are more likely to ban clubs from operating or allow fans in sporting venues than states with mostly Republican Party leadership, like Texas. Hate to put things in political terms, but that’s how things are in the United States.
The Washington Wizards are going to play momentarily in Philadelphia for their opener against the 76ers. They are not directly affected by this game postponement. However, the news from the NBA certainly shows that it’s a matter of time before a number of teams face coronavirus postponements because of positive tests and environments that could put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
The Wizards appear to be more vulnerable to an outbreak than other teams because few players are known to have contracted the coronavirus. Russell Westbrook, Thomas Bryant and one other player are the only one who have contracted the disease that has plagued the United States and the world.
The moral from this? Stay safe. Socially distance when possible. And wear a mask!