Oh man, oh man. Not again.
Like Drake’s infamous bars from his “Back to Back” diss track of Meek Mill, the United States has fumbled the COVID-19 pandemic not once, but twice, in impressively rapid succession. Another roster spot on USA Basketball’s contingent of men heading to the Games is in jeopardy.
Wizards star Bradley Beal first dropped from Team USA after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. And the flight for Chicago’s Zach LaVine, a former Bothell High star, to Tokyo has been delayed after USAB announced he was put in the health and safety protocol on Monday.
“Zach LaVine has been placed under USA Basketball’s health & safety protocols & will not travel with the team to Tokyo today,” the organization clarified. “We hope that Zach will be able to join the team in Tokyo later this week.”
The Team USA men’s and women’s basketball team took off for Tokyo together on Monday. The men’s team, which had 12 spots on its roster, left with just eight players — Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton travel to Tokyo after the NBA Finals.
LaVine’s hold up is a blow to Team USA, which has now lost its two most dynamic guards after Damian Lillard. He averaged 11 points per game in the four warm up games, including 15 points in the 28-point win over Argentina.
LaVine is a sharpshooting, uber-athletic guard with the physical tools to be a capable defender at his position. It is unclear if he will be replaced on the Olympic roster.
USAB replaced Beal with Spurs forward Keldon Johnson and replaced the injured Kevin Love (calf) with big man JaVale McGee.
LaVine is the fourth player from USAB to be affected by COVID in the weeks leading up to the start of the Games. Other than Beal, Jerami Grant was in the protocol last week for contact tracing. And the Storm’s Katie Lou Samuelson, on the women’s Olympic 3×3 roster, revealed she was sick with COVID on Monday and would not be heading to Tokyo.
At least four members of the total Team USA delegation have been forced to withdraw from the games due to COVID. Tennis player Coco Gauff tested positive for the virus and dropped out of the Olympics on Sunday. USA gymnastics alternate Kara Eaker was dropped from the Olympics after testing positive on Monday.
Elsewhere, two South African Olympians have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as one Olympian from the Czech Republic.
The evidence is overwhelming. Having the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic is an exceedingly bad idea.
Just like the United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases, Team USA has so far led in Olympic participants forced to drop out due to the virus. It’s as sure a sign that, well, maybe the Olympics shouldn’t be happening anyway.