Wizards reportedly blamed Celtics for their Covid outbreak, and complained to the NBA

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The Celtics led the NBA in one category this season: Games lost by players due to to Covid-19 precautions and infections.

And teams around the league seemingly noticed.

During a recent segment on NBC Sports Boston (captured by OMF), longtime NBA reporter Chris Mannix revealed the Washington Wizards went as far as to complain to the league office about the behavior of some Celtics players. Washington endured one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks all season, with seven players testing positive for the virus over a four-day period in mid-January.

The Wizards played the Celtics Jan. 8, and apparently blamed them.

“The Celtics were among the teams that I know of that didn’t take Covid seriously,” Mannix said. “They continued to go out on the road, and would find ways to skirt the rules at times when they were traveling. They didn’t take these protocols seriously — not as seriously as some other teams did. Washington, when they had all of their Covid issues back in January and early February, they blamed Boston. They complained to the league that the Celtics, because of what they had heard about players going out in Florida I believe it was, they believed they contracted their issues through the Celtics.”

With more than 33.5 million Americans coming down with Covid-19, it’s wrong to blame individual behavior for all outbreaks, of course. We’ve been living in the midst of a global pandemic for the last 16 months, often with little structural support. For some — including essential workers and those living in multigenerational housing — contracting Covid-19 was unavoidable.

But that’s not the case with NBA players, who were supposed to follow strict guidelines this season. Team personnel were prohibited from participating in several recreational activities while they were home — going to bars, clubs, live entertainment, hanging out with more than 15 people at once — and could only dine at restaurants outside while they were on the road.

Mannix says the Celtics skirted around those rules, which may have cost them games. Through early April, they lost a total of 131 player-days due to Covid-19, more than the bottom 10 clubs combined. It was a significant contributor to their constant lineup shuffling.

The reported breaches also speak to an apparent lack of discipline around the team under Brad Stevens. In a bombshell report for The Athletic, Jared Weiss reports the Celtics lost their competitive spirit this season.

Perhaps that’s another reason for their seeming protocol violations. Why stay locked down if winning games isn’t the utmost priority?

“Most of the league knew what was going on with the Celtics, and how they weren’t really taking these Covid protocols seriously,” Mannix said.

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