A recent report from Rolling Stone has revealed that the Milwaukee Bucks were battling more than the Phoenix Suns during the 2021 NBA Finals. In addition to containing Devin Booker and Chris Paul on the court, the 2021 NBA Champions were also managing a COVID-19 outbreak that impacted several people. Overall, the report found that at least 12 "staffers, family members and associates" of the Suns and Bucks tested positive for the virus during the six-game championship series.
“We were very concerned that Giannis wasn’t vaccinated and that, with all of this exposure from all these different people,” a Milwaukee Bucks official told the publication.
“It hit everybody pretty quickly, but the biggest thing was: Just make sure Giannis tests negative.”
The outbreak reportedly took center stage on July 4, 2021. With the delta variant still on the rise and the franchise's greatest player in nearly 50 years unvaccinated, the report indicates that the team still charted two planes for away game travel. One plane was for the team and essential support staff and another plane was for close friends and family. Along the way, the franchise encountered a number of "hiccups." In fact, there were nearly 900 new COVID-19 cases reported across the U.S. on the day that the outbreak hit its peak.
When confronted with the Rolling Stone's report, NBA official David Weiss and former Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry confirmed there were a number of missteps during the 2021 NBA Finals that nearly caused complete chaos.
“This is the NBA Finals,” Lasry told Sullivan.
“The last thing we need is for any of our guys — from the coach to the trainers to any of the players — is to be out. And even when you’re trying to be as responsible as possible, this virus is still going to make its way through.”
Fortunately, only one NBA Finals participant, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, missed time during the championship series. More importantly, there were no reported hospitalizations or deaths tied to the outbreak. Instead, Giannis Antetokounmpo remained COVID-free, put together a historic performance in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals and the Bucks won their first championship in five decades.