Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will not suit up for Sunday's (March 7) All-Star game after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
"Prior to traveling to Atlanta, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had contact with an individual who is confirmed today to have tested positive for the coronavirus," the NBA said in a statement hours before tip-off in Atlanta.
Embiid was supposed to play on Team Durant, while Simmons was playing for Team LeBron. There are no plans to add additional players to the roster before tip-off. Team Durant coach Doc Rivers said that Zion Williamson will replace Embiid in the starting lineup. Simmons was not in the starting lineup for Team LeBron.
According to ESPN, the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 was a barber who recently cut the hair of Simmons and Embiid. They both flew to Atlanta on Saturday night in a private jet and were in quarantine as part of the All-Star game protocols when they learned of their exposure. Other members of the 76ers staff who traveled to Atlanta won't miss the game because they weren't exposed to the barber.
The last-minute scratch comes as many NBA stars voiced concerns about hosting the All-Star game during the coronavirus pandemic. L.A. Clippers All-Star Paul George said he was against playing the game during a press conference on Sunday.
"You have situations like we are dealing with today, it's just an unfortunate time in the world where our health and safety should be at the front of the helm," George told reporters. "I personally didn't agree with the game, but it is what it is."
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