Ben Simmons’ cruel COVID nightmare
In moments like these all you can do is crack open a bottle of wine.
That was Ben Simmons' move after he suffered the disappointment of being ruled out of today's NBA All-Star game - along with 76ers teammate Joel Embiid - after they were discovered to have been in contact with a barber who later tested positive for COVID.
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The NBA announced Monday morning the Australian guard and Cameroonian centre learned of the situation before leaving for the All-Star showdown at Atlanta.
The league is desperate to avoid the potential disaster of a COVID outbreak while its best two dozen players are all gathered in the same city and had no choice but to keep the Philly stars out of the game, which begins at 12pm AEDT.
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported: "The exposure occurred with Embiid and Simmons' personal barber who had a positive test result and is awaiting another test. Both travelled by themselves on private planes, and had no exposure to other players or people down in Atlanta bubble."
Simmons, who was set to play in his third All-Star game, reacted to the situation by opening a bottle of Penfolds.
Embiid was selected fourth overall by Kevin Durant and was set to start for his squad in the contest of elite NBA talent while Simmons was picked fourth among reserves, 13th overall, by LeBron James for his roster.
No other All-Stars or members of the 76ers coaching staff in Atlanta were affected because they were not exposed to the coronavirus-positive individual in Philadelphia, the NBA said.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers will still guide Durant's All-Star squad.
Rivers has selected New Orleans forward Zion Williamson to replace Embiid as a starter for Durant's team, the NBA announced.
Williamson has averaged 25.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game this season for the Pelicans, who share 11th in the Western Conference at 10-21.
Durant and James were named captains after being the top selections in fan voting from the Eastern and Western conferences, James claiming the most votes overall.
Durant will miss the game with an injury.
The 76ers have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 24-12. Embiid ranks second in the NBA with 30.2 points a game and fifth in the league in rebounds with 11.6 a contest.
Simmons is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game.
It's uncertain how long they might be sidelined. The 76ers are scheduled to resume NBA regular-season play on Thursday at Chicago.
1. LeBron James (LA Lakers)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
3. Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
4. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
5. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
6. Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
8. Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns)
9. Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
10. Paul George (LA Clippers)
11. Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)
12. Rudy Gobert - (Utah Jazz)
7. Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
1. Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
3. Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)
4. Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
5. Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
6. James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
7. Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
8. Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)
9. Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
10. Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
11. Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)
12. Donovan Mitchell - (Utah Jazz)
2. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
- with AFP
Originally published as Ben Simmons' cruel COVID nightmare