Kevin Durant enters game late, exits early amid COVID-19 protocol confusion

Jack Baer
·3 min read

For the first time in his 14-year year career, Kevin Durant came off the bench on Friday. And after missing the beginning of the game, he had to be pulled before it ended as well.

Somehow, COVID-19 protocols were to blame for both events.

The Brooklyn Nets star was unavailable for the start of Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. Further reports indicated Durant was undergoing contact tracing.

Durant was eventually allowed into the game, but the momentary benching had already ended a starting streak that spanned 866 regular season games and 139 playoff games in his career.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates his three point shot in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center on February 05, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant missed the beginning and end of Friday's Nets game. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Nets scratch, clear and pull Kevin Durant in same game

Once Durant was on the floor, it was assumed the COVID-19 drama had ended. And then Durant was pulled in the third quarter due to health and safety protocols. By that point, Durant had played 19 minutes in the game, scoring 10 points with six rebounds, five assists and four personal fouls.

Durant, who previously contracted COVID-19 last March, didn’t seem pleased when told he had to exit the game.

Less than an hour later, Durant logged onto Twitter and added more intrigue to the situation with two words:

Durant, Harden not buying NBA’s ‘abundance of caution’ explanation

The NBA eventually cleared up the confusion with a statement explaining that while Durant had tested negative three times in the past 24 hours, someone he interacted with Friday afternoon had an inconclusive result come back shortly before the game.

Durant was eventually allowed into the game after being initially held out, which the NBA said is in accordance with its COVID-19 protocols. However, that person then tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in Durant’s hasty exit.

The NBA’s statement — particularly its use of “abundance of caution” while explaining how a playing entered a game despite COVID-19 worries — received plenty of scrutiny as it made the rounds.

Among the critics: Kevin Durant.

Durant’s teammate James Harden was similarly perplexed

“We get tested every single day, and he’s been negative. So I don’t understand what the problem is,” Harden said. “If that was the case, the game should have been postponed. We’re talking about contact tracing, he was around all of us. I don’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to play, and then was able to play, then taken back off the court.”

It’s unclear how long Durant will be forced to remain out, but for now, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that he is unlikely to travel with the Nets for Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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