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76ers' Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons ruled out for All-Star after contact with COVID-19 positive

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·3-min read

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been ruled out for Sunday night's NBA All-Star game, the league announced. The Philadelphia 76ers stars reportedly received haircuts from a barber who tested positive for COVID-19.

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Since the game is scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. ET and the duo were pulled around noon, there are reportedly no plans to replace them, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. 

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Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported earlier Sunday that the duo were unlikely to play because of contact tracing protocols. The barber was retested and turned back another positive, per Wojnarowski.

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Embiid and Simmons traveled by themselves on private planes into Atlanta, per Charania, and were not exposed to any other players or individuals around the game atmosphere there. Wojnarowski reported the two will do media sessions virtually from their rooms.

76ers head coach Doc Rivers, who is coaching Team Durant, said before the NBA's announcement it wasn't "looking great" for them to play. He's also not sure what the protocol is for them going forward. The 76ers play in Chicago on Thursday.

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Embiid committed on Saturday to donating his $100,000 in winnings from the weekend to three homeless shelters in the Philly area. They will provide meals, clothing, COVID treatment, health care, summer camp and essential care services for teens.

NBA All-Star COVID-19 quarantine protocol

The NBA required players participating to quarantine in their homes "with limited exceptions" from Feb. 27 until leaving for Atlanta on March 6.

While in Atlanta for the game the players, per a memo by the NBA, are required to stay at the hotel except when participating in the events at the arena. All events are being held Sunday in a change from the spread-out festivities of previous years.

Players and up to four of their personal guests are transported to and from the game in private transportation and all receive regular PCR testing.

Players voiced concerns about game

A potential COVID-19 positive case or exposure is exactly what many players voiced concern about in the lead-up to the break. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard all said they had zero excitement for the event.

“It is what it is at this point," Leonard said last month. "We all know why we're playing it. It's money on the line. It's an opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health right now, pretty much. We’re playing games now and it’s still a pandemic. I’m doing all these protocols and rules, so it doesn’t really surprise me.”

The players noted the condensed schedule coming two months after the bubble season at Disney World and their concerns with it. But they also noted there is the chance of spreading the virus. The NBA and its players association reached an agreement in early February to hold the game.

This post will be updated

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