Take a wild guess.
You’re correct. COVID contact tracing. According to Shams Charania, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been ruled out tonight due to a COVID exposure.
Before traveling to Atlanta, the Sixers teammates’ were in contact with their personal barber, who recently tested positive for the virus. Embiid and Simmons flew privately and separately to the All-Star “bubble.” Fortunately, the two did not expose other players or personnel in Atlanta, as far as we know. But clearly, this is not good news for the Sixers teammates and NBA at large. For what it’s worth, we hope the barber will be OK too.
Adam Silver recently tripled down on the game, framing it as for “the fans.” But as Deadspin’s Bryan Fonseca notes, “You can listen to Silver say ‘fans,’ and just replace that word with ‘money.’”
Players, too, have wondered why we’re having this game in a pandemic that is still, unfortunately, all too prevalent across the country. Last month, De’Aaron Fox was asked about plans to bring the game back in 2021.
“If I’m going to be brutally honest, I think [the plan is] stupid,” Fox told reporters. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, then what’s the point of bringing an All Star game back?” He was right, of course.
There are no plans to replace either player, according to Woj.
Simmons and Embiid, who were selected to play on Team LeBron and Team Durant respectively, will not be available to go in this meaningless game tonight. The Sixers next matchup is on Thursday in Chicago.