Evan Fournier Defends Gobert, Criticizes Coronavirus Coverage

The coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and so does how the media is covering it with respect to the NBA.

Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert was the first player who tested positive for COVID-19 and the French center was criticized for his careless nature leading up to his diagnosis. Gobert mockingly touched all the microphones and recorders in front of him following a media session and reportedly showed a “cavalier” attitude in the locker room, touching other people and their belongings in a way that mocked the seriousness of the coronavirus.

Evan Fournier, who is Gobert’s teammate on the French national team, believes the big man has been treated unfairly since that positive test and isn’t thrilled with how NBA media has covered the pandemic.

“It hurts me, he became the face of the virus in the NBA,” Fournier told L’Equipe (h/t Sportando). “The behavior of people and journalists has been disgusting.

“I don’t understand (revealing) the names of the sick: it looks like the transfer window when it’s the scoop race. It was a coronavirus free agency, unbearable. You can say a guy is sick without naming him… Philadelphia and the Lakers have cases and we don’t know who they are.”

The Sixers and Lakers are among the teams that didn’t announce or leak the names of those who contracted the virus. Two players from Los Angeles are affected, while three members of the Sixers organization (not necessarily players) have been diagnosed.

The Celtics and Nets also announced positive tests without naming any players. However, Marcus Smart immediately came forward via his social media, telling fans that he was the affected Celtics player and provided an update on his situation. The public’s knowledge of Kevin Durant‘s diagnosis took a similar path.

The media’s coverage of the events, particularly those within the NBA, is much less significant than the actual health and well-being of the millions whom the virus has impacted. Still, it’s fair to wonder whether Fournier has a point in his criticism.

Professional athletes, at least within the United States, are still protected by privacy acts such as HIPAA, but their diagnoses are routinely shared with the public (by entities that don’t employ them). Should the coronavirus be any different?

NBA organizations have no such decision to make when it comes to passing along medical information, as they are required to keep records confidential. It’s one reason why the Sixers had to move on from Bryan Colangelo when he shared medical information via a burner Twitter account. It’s why you haven’t seen an NBA team disclose information on any specific players with the virus.

NBA players and teams have come under criticism for the amount of testing they are receiving compared to the general population. While it was reported that teams are buying the tests privately, that fact hasn’t lessened the backlash.

Part of being an NBA player is being in the public eye. Players have a spotlight on them that many others do not — just like they have the resources to access coronavirus tests that many within the United States cannot afford.

Individual reporters and writers must make judgment calls on what information to report and what to tuck away. This is true when it comes to the coronavirus and all matters.

Do you think Fournier has a point? Or has the coverage of the coronavirus in the NBA been appropriate?

newest oldest

17 thoughts on “Evan Fournier Defends Gobert, Criticizes Coronavirus Coverage

  1. dandan

    People are upset with Gobert because he made light of the seriousness of this virus and in doing that, potentially put other people at risk of infection. He should be criticized for that, but not for being the first NBA player to contract the virus.

    • All American Johnsonville Dogs

      They’re upset cause of his careless actions.

      If he was honest and said he doesn’t give two $#!/s about Corona virus not many people would care.

      But touching the mics and touching other people wasn’t the brightest idea.

  2. bedbathandbiyombo

    Fournier is defending his guy, and that’s admirable. However, at least from what I’ve seen, I think the coverage overall has been fair. I also think knowing that athletes have coronavirus makes it more real for some people (myself included), and it helps those people (myself included again) take it more seriously. I believe this to be true especially if you don’t know someone personally who has it. In this regard, I think athletes who announce they are sick are doing a great service to fighting the pandemic.

  3. El Don

    I think Fournier is absolutely right, I mean who cares which players get the flu or don’t, or how many get it? Players like Smart coming out & announcing it are just looking for attention & for people to feel sorry for them.
    Look, as a family, we probably got it in December in Jamaica, when we were on our annual vacation. It didn’t make us particularly ill or anything, kids got nothing for it, the wife & I got a nasty dry cough that lasted us 6-7 weeks, but then nothing else. I think around were we live more people got it then than now, but now is when the government is thinking about locking us down, outrageous. I guess no vacation this year if I am not allowed to work, as I own my own little business.

    • B-Minus21

      You just self diagnosed yourself with something you have no actual clue if you really had or not, and then used your own self diagnosis to downplay the seriousness of something you don’t even know you had…. I seems legit.

  4. x%sure

    Obviously a contagious killer is different than a sore knee.
    Society/gov’t is trying to shut some things down so they’re going to benefit from some celebrity faces.
    I believe in disclosure so there should be more not less injuries, salaries etc revealed.
    Fournier can be mad, I get mad, everyone does, that doesn’t mean the media should control information even more than it does!!

  5. Reflect

    As I already said in a previous article, I think it’s quite unethical to be sharing the names of the players with coronavirus. So I agree with Fournier on that portion of his statement.

    However, Gobert deserved what he got. No one else has gotten public scrutiny because no one else has made dumb public statements.

    I’m sure Gobert is not the only player in the NBA who didn’t take the coronavirus seriously 2 months ago. But somehow all the other NBA players found a way to not do public and embarrassing things, and they found a way to keep their opinions to themselves. I’m all for forgive and forget and I don’t hold anything against Gobert, but this situation is his own doing.

  6. phillyballers

    Am I wrong, but not every player or employee has had their name ‘exposed’ to the media. It seems like there must be some voluntary aspect of this. Multiple Nets and Lakers were exposed, yet only KD and JaVale McGee are known. Multiple Sixers, but none identified.

    • Luke Adams

      Yeah, technically no team has announced the name of an affected player, but Gobert, Mitchell, and Wood had their positive tests leaked immediately. I wonder if there was a backlash behind the scenes to that, since all the players identified since then (Durant, Smart, etc.) went public themselves.

      McGee’s test was negative, by the way. He was mentioned specifically because he’s had other health issues that might put him more at risk if he caught the virus.

  7. martevious

    He has a point, perhaps, in names being revealed, but Gobert did act in a very cavalier manner, which is coming back to bite him. He deserves criticism.

  8. Dodgethis

    Doesn’t change the fact the entire world is shutting down because a fraction of a percent of the population could die. Not really worth it.

    • I agree with you, but I don’t know how to effect a middle ground approach. It seems the only allowable opinions are “It’s just a cold, bro” and “We’re all gonna die”, and people would rather err on the side of the latter.

    • stevep-4

      Unless your grammy or uncle or diabetic sister is one of the victims. Then, I suppose, Dodgethis, it would matter to you. Try empathy.

Leave a Reply