The Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder defended the use of private companies Wednesday to test all players for coronavirus.
Four Nets players, including Kevin Durant, tested positive for COVID-19 while none of the Thunder players tested positive. Both teams explained the use of private testing after the Nets were criticized by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for testing teammates who were asymptomatic.
“We wish them a speedy recovery,” De Blasio tweeted. “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.”
We wish them a speedy recovery. 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. https://t.co/7uQlL3zc7Z
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 17, 2020
The Nets claimed that they tested based on medical experts’ advice after staff and teammates began showing symptoms. The Thunder reportedly tested after playing the exposed Utah Jazz team March 11. (RELATED: Kevin Durant Tests Positive For Coronavirus, 3 Other Nets Players Also Have It)
The Nets said in a statement that their players and staff were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, prompting them to get tested. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/ZChF35XlKT
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) March 18, 2020
“As we learned NBA players on other teams had tested positive for COVID-19, we noticed that several of our players and staff had symptoms,” the statement began. “Based on this information, and the judgment that all of our players are subject to high exposure due to the close physical nature of basketball, the communal nature of teams and the possibility of an accelerated spread from team to team, our medical experts advised that our players get tested.”
Both the Nets and the Thunder said they used private companies as not to overburden the state testing system.
OKC Thunder COVID-19 update. pic.twitter.com/wvC7xHElK5
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 18, 2020
“We sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC’s public resources,” the team said. “Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive.”
Durant told the Athletic on Tuesday that while he tested positive he felt fine and was not showing symptoms. The Nets said it is “critical” to test asymptomatic people in case they are positive carriers.
“If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and the public,” the statement continued. “Our hope is that by drawing attention to the critical need for testing asymptomatic positive carriers, we can begin to contain the spread and save lives. We believe it is not only the right thing to do for our players and their families, it is the responsible thing to do from a medical and epidemiological standpoint.”