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Asia Durr’s long haul with COVID-19 is a cautionary tale for the Wizards and the NBA as they continue their season

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The New York Liberty guard may not be able to fully recover from the coronavirus and resume her playing career. In addition, NBA writer Sekou Smith died of the coronavirus yesterday. This was a rough day for professional basketball.

Washington Mystics v New York Liberty
Asia Durr is a coronavirus “long hauler.” While she has recovered from the virus, she isn’t cleared to return to play.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The world has went through just over a year with the coronavirus pandemic. There are about 100 million cases, of which 2.16 million people died. In the United States, there are 25.5 million cases and 425,000 deaths. We can expect to see these numbers rise significantly in the coming weeks, even though they can sound numbing these days.

And yesterday, the basketball world was shocked by both a coronavirus death of a famous writer and a player who is a COVID-19 long hauler.

If you watch NBA TV daily, you often see Sekou Smith giving his analysis and columns on the NBA’s official site. He passed away yesterday after getting the coronavirus and was just 48 years old. Smith also had a podcast and had his most recent episode on Jan. 11, just about two weeks before his death. His passing should be a reminder that some people can get the coronavirus and succumb quickly despite not being very old or frail. Rest in Paradise, Sekou.

I also wanted to dedicate most of this piece to New York Liberty guard Asia Durr. She is the COVID-19 long hauler. Last June, she was diagnosed with the coronavirus and couldn’t play last summer in the WNBA’s Florida bubble because she couldn’t fully recover physically.

Yesterday, Durr was interviewed by Mary Carillo of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” I only saw one two minute segment, but Durr mentioned that though she sometimes feels fine, “like I could go out and go to the store or I could clean up,” she is at other times feeling like she was “hit by a bus.”

Durr went on to say that she lost 32 pounds since getting diagnosed with the coronavirus and hasn’t really tried to get back on the court after the second pick of the 2019 WNBA Draft averaged 9.7 points per game. It’s unclear if she can play again.

We hope Durr gets back on the court soon, even if she doesn’t wear a Mystics uniform.

What can the Wizards and the NBA take away from this?

Though I could apply this situation to the Mystics, they aren’t playing right now. The Wizards are and have six players who missed their current road trip officially due to health and safety protocols. That said, it’s likely those six players tested positive for the coronavirus this month.

The Wizards’ and the NBA’s players can look at Durr as a cautionary tale and example of what can happen after a professional athlete gets the coronavirus. She was in top physical shape before getting the coronavirus. Though she doesn’t have the virus anymore, Durr still can’t get back on the court. I know that most people who get the virus could get back to work in two weeks or so, but one size doesn’t fit all.

The only main difference between the Wizards’ coronavirus cases this month and Durr’s last June is that the Wizards were playing regular season games in an open environment while Durr’s case happened during the offseason.

I don’t want to imply that a Wizards player or any NBA player will be a COVID-19 long hauler. After all, it’s only been about two to three weeks from Wizards players’ initial diagnoses. But the Wizards’ outbreak and the near-daily postponement of other NBA games have only further convinced me that the bubble was the only way the league should have operated this season. And we just won’t know which players, if any, become long haulers until some time passes.

Again, it’s very scary seeing a fellow professional basketball player’s career in jeopardy AND Smith, a famous NBA writer who isn’t that old, die of the coronavirus yesterday.