George Hill of Oklahoma City Thunder Says Stricter NBA Protocol “Makes No Sense”

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As the NBA implements more stringent health and safety guidelines amid a breakout of positive coronavirus tests and close contact, Oklahoma City Thunder goalie George Hill questioned some of the logic behind the protocols in the wake of a 112-102 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.
“We want to play the game… but I don’t understand some rules,” Hill said. “We can sweat 48 minutes with a guy next to us for 48 minutes, but we can’t talk to them afterwards. It does not mean anything. ”

Under the improved rules, pre-match and post-match interactions with opposing players are limited to nudging or punching, with “prolonged socialization” to be avoided. This means that there is no post-match catch-up with a former teammate or friend, previously standard post-match practice.

Also in the new guidelines: Hotel rooms are now closed to non-team guests on the road. At the same time, movement of players and staff is restricted on the road, with both now prohibited from leaving the hotel for non-team activities. Previously, players were allowed two guests in their room, including family and longtime personal friends.

“I am a grown man. I will do whatever I want to do. If I want to go see my family, I’ll go see my family, ”Hill said. “They can’t tell me I have to stay in a room 24/7. If it’s that bad then maybe we shouldn’t be playing. But that’s life; nobody will be able to cancel their whole life for that Game. ”

The NBA has postponed four games this week due to COVID-19 concerns, including three involving the Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls all face significant challenges in fielding the required eight players due to positive testing and contact tracing.

Players must also wear a mask at all times when they are not playing. There is a brief “cool-down” period in a designated area for when they are just out of play, but masks are required on the bench and in the locker rooms.

“This is what is needed, and I am ready to do whatever it takes to get rid of this COVID problem,” Thunder Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “If that means I have to wear a mask on the bench all the time, that’s what it is and I’ll do it. I want to get back to a normal life, and whatever it takes to get back, I’m gonna do it. ”

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