After making it through the three-month Orlando bubble without a single case of COVID-19, the NBA couldn’t make it through two days of their out-of-the-bubble 2020-21 season before the virus wreaked havoc.
The league announced that Wednesday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder has been postponed due to health and safety reasons.
In short, the Rockets did not have the minimum eight players available for tonight’s game. The matchup was set to take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, one of the few venues allowing fans to attend in person.
In its announcement, the league said three Rockets players returned either positive or inconclusive COVID tests. Further contract tracing led to four additional players — including star players John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins — having to quarantine. At the same time, a separate incident involving James Harden arose after a video emerged of him at an indoor party without a mask. The league said that Harden was also unavailable for the game for violating health and safety protocols.
On top of that, the Rockets had another player who was out with an injury.
The season tipped off Tuesday night with Kevin Durant making his Brooklyn Nets debut as he and Kyrie Irving helped New York’s other team throttle the Golden State Warriors. The late game featured the Los Angeles Lakers receiving their championship rings (for a season that only wrapped up two months ago), but falling to their inner-city rival, the Clippers.
It was TNT’s best opening night since 2017, with 2.85 million viewers (though its typical opening night comes in mid-October).