Two Lakers test positive for the coronavirus

Tania Ganguli, Broderick Turner
Brian Bowland, a lab specialist the UCLA Health System, works on a coronavirus testing kit.  (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Two players on the Lakers tested positive for the coronavirus, the team confirmed Thursday. Both players are asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of team doctors, the Lakers said in a statement.

“All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team,” the statement read.

The Lakers encouraged players to get tested, and made it available on a voluntary basis, after four Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the virus Tuesday. Only injured All-Star Kevin Durant said publicly he had contracted the virus. Durant and two of his teammates who tested positive have not experienced any symptoms.

Since the Lakers had played the Nets on March 10, team doctors and public health officials recommended players get tested, according to the team’s statement.

On Wednesday morning, 14 Lakers players were tested at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. They remained in their cars while the tests were administered by inserting a swab far up their noses. The tests took about 10 seconds each and results were available Thursday.

Lakers players decided as a group to keep the individual results of the tests confidential, but Imani McGee-Stafford, a WNBA player and sister of Lakers center JaVale McGee, said on Twitter, “My brother safe, stop saying he got the rona. Thank you.”

“Stay safe everyone and God Bless!!!!” LeBron James tweeted Thursday afternoon, after the positive tests were announced. He tweeted as he watched a news conference given by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday afternoon in which the mayor announced a “Safer at Home” order.

James added: “'Stay At Home' Bill act in place tonight at 11:59pm. Very smart move Mayor! #CoronavirusPandemic”

At the time the Lakers played the Nets, the only safeguard the NBA had implemented in response to the spread of the new coronavirus was to close locker rooms to reporters and make sure interviews were conducted from at least six feet away. Reporters still gathered in large clusters to conduct interviews and sat close together for pregame and postgame news conferences with both teams’ coaches and players.

The league’s board of governors held a conference call March 11 during which it considered suspending the season or playing games without fans.

That night, the league’s first known case of coronavirus was announced when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive, which led to the NBA suspending its season. The Jazz, who were in Oklahoma City, were tested by Oklahoma health officials. The Thunder later used a private facility to conduct tests.

According to NBA spokesman Mike Bass, public health officials recommended that eight full teams be tested and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a television interview Wednesday that eight teams had been tested.

Bass also said in a statement that positive tests were reported to public health officials.

More positive tests were revealed Thursday. The Denver Nuggets said one member of the organization tested positive and the Philadelphia 76ers announced that three members of theirs did.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart announced he had tested positive, becoming the fourth player to publicly say he had contracted the coronavirus, joining Gobert, Durant and Utah's Donovan Mitchell. Smart said he was tested five days ago.

“So I just found out I tested positive for the coronavirus,” Smart said in a video he posted on Twitter. “I’m OK, I feel fine. I don’t feel any of the symptoms. But I can’t stress enough practicing social distancing and really keeping yourself a way from a large group of people. just really washing your hands and help protect yourself and help protect others by protecting yourself.”

In all 14 members of NBA franchises are known to have tested positive for the virus.