When it was announced on Tuesday that the Lakers would be testing players for COVID-19 after four Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the disease, there was special concern about one player in the purple-and-gold: JaVale McGee.
That’s because McGee has a long history of asthma and had a case of pneumonia last year. One of the few things known about this disease is that it can have a big impact on those with respiratory problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “People with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.”
Two Lakers did test positive for coronavirus according to multiple reports, though the players’ identities were not revealed. But on Thursday, according to a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, McGee was not one of them. His test came back negative.
McGee Bristles at Asthma Talk
McGee has long bristled at the fact that he has asthma—mostly because of the way it is brought up by fans and media. McGee has been in the NBA for 12 seasons and has had three seasons in which he averaged more than 22 minutes per game. But because he mostly plays in short stints, as most 7-footers do in the modern NBA, the perception persists that he can’t play in long stretches.
Last season, after a win in Phoenix, McGee addressed the topic to reporters.
“This is what I want to say about the asthma,” McGee said, according to ESPN. “Stop bringing that up like I’m out here wheezing and having asthma attacks. I’ve never had an asthma attack in my life. I feel like that’s definitely lowered my value as a basketball player.
“People say, ‘Oh he only can play 20 minutes because he has asthma.’ No. there’s a lot of people with asthma in the league. I feel like somebody stamped that excuse on me like, ‘Cool, we can play him low minutes because he has asthma.'”
McGee speculated that the insinuation that he is limited by his asthma first took hold when he was playing with the Nuggets from 2011-14. But he pointed out, most players’ breathing is affected by the altitude in Denver.
At Least 10 Coronavirus Cases in NBA
The Lakers players and staff are under a 14-day quarantine. Players were made aware of their exposure on Tuesday in a conference call. According to the Los Angeles Times, coach Frank Vogel and VP Rob Pelinka have been having twice-daily conference calls since league action was suspended on March 12.
The Lakers played the Nets on March 10, in their final game before the season was suspended. Four Nets had positive test results, including injured star Kevin Durant. Another player, Marcus Smart of the Celtics, has also said he has tested positive for the disease. The total number of known players with positive tests is currently 10, though only five (Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and Detroit’s Christian Wood are the others) have been identified.
The Sixers announced that three members of the organization have tested positive for COVID-19 and the Nuggets said one in their organization also tested positive. The teams did not specify whether those members of the organizations were players.