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?