Omicron in NBA: 36% of active referees entered COVID-19 protocols, compared


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As the NBA plays through this omicron-induced COVID-19 wave, it’s not just the lists that are unrecognizable. It is also the referees.

Twenty-five of the league’s 70 active referees – 36%! – are in COVID-19 health and safety protocols as of Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and, just like the players, their replacements are from the G League.

Finding replacements has been possible in part because the G League season is on hiatus until Wednesday. A few times, however – Pacers vs. Warriors, December 13; Suns vs. Hornets, December 19; Spurs vs. Pistons, December 26; Suns vs. Thunder, December 29 – Matches were played with just two referees.

Last August, the NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association announced their agreement on a vaccination mandate. All referees have been vaccinated and are due to receive booster shots by Wednesday, according to ESPN. The league is now reportedly working with the union to improve referees’ travel arrangements to reduce potential exposures.

In related news, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers and Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone reportedly entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Thursday. There are now seven head coaches in the Protocols: Rivers, Malone, Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City), Monty Williams (Phoenix), Chauncey Billups (Portland), Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers) and Billy Donovan (Chicago).

Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry recently approved the protocols. Thirty percent of NBA head coaches have been in protocols this season.

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