Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Nothing illustrates the wealth-income gap and the power it provides rich superstar athletes is the fact that Nets like Kevin Durant are able to get tested for COVID-19 while regular folks are out of luck.
Nothing illustrates the wealth-income gap and the power it provides rich superstar athletes is the fact that Nets like Kevin Durant are able to get tested for COVID-19 while regular folks are out of luck.
Illustration: Eric Barrow

Will Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets be a rallying cry as the sick and the poor rise up to eat the rich?

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There were murmurs of disbelief after the Utah Jazz tested 58 employees in the wake of Rudy Gobert testing positive. That was explained by Oklahoma state health officials, who said the Jazz did not receive special treatment, and that, with Gobert testing positive, the threat of players and other people around the team (such as media) becoming “super spreaders” was strong enough to warrant using some 20 percent of the state’s available test kits on the team.

Those murmurs turned into something of a low rumble yesterday as news broke that the entire Brooklyn Nets team had been tested, with four players confirmed to have COVID-19, including superstar Kevin Durant. But only one of those four had shown any symptoms.

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This news, juxtaposed with constant stories of how difficult it is to get tested for coronavirus, has really struck a nerve. In the same news cycle, there is an L.A. Times story about a man who performed CPR on his dying wife but couldn’t get tested. In New York, Gov. Cuomo has said the state should be testing 1,000 people per day, but getting approved for a test remains a frustratingly difficult process. In a particularly harrowing account, one symptomatic Long Island woman needed her congressman to intervene before getting a test.

It prompted New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio to speak out on Twitter. “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.”

Even President Trump weighed in. When asked by NBC’s Peter Alexander if the well-connected get to go to the front of the line, Trump said, “No, I wouldn’t say so. But perhaps that’s the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly.”

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It seems inevitable that it’ll also be the story of death, as the lack of tests for legitimately sick people and medical professionals battling COVID-19 lead to some people falling through the cracks.

The coronavirus has, in many ways, driven home the appalling economic inequality that so many have taken for granted. Millions of parents are learning that home-schooling kids is a nightmare and yes, school teachers are woefully underpaid. There’s a new appreciation for grocery store clerks, like Whole Foods workers who are on the front lines trying to keep a panicked populace fed while billionaire Jeff Bezos reaps the profits. 

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A harsh economic downturn is coming. You know things are looking bad when Republicans are talking about a stimulus plan that’s not just for airlines. Maybe it’s a positive sign when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is sounding more and more like former progressive presidential candidates like Andrew Yang or Elizabeth Warren, with no one asking, “How do we pay for that?”

Still, it’s striking when the one guy left advocating health care for all, Bernie Sanders, is watching his campaign circle the drain.

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Change is coming for America, and some of it may end up being good, in the long run. In the short term, well, it feels like we’d all be better off if we had better jump shots.

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