The NBA world was again shaken Tuesday, by the news that four Brooklyn Nets had tested positive for the coronavirus, including Kevin Durant, who confirmed his diagnosis.

Brooklyn didn’t name the players who had tested positive, but this was part of the team statement: “Four Brooklyn Nets players have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Of the four, one player is exhibiting symptoms while three are asymptomatic. All four players are presently isolated and under the care of team physicians.”

Brooklyn had played one of a scheduled four West Coast games before the NBA suspended its season last Wednesday evening. So the Nets were beginning their West Coast trip shortly after the Sixers ended theirs.

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Following the schedule

The Sixers had a West Coast trip that included games March 1 and 3 at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers. The third game of the trip was March 5 at Sacramento. The Sixers finished the swing March 7 in San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors.

The Nets began their West Coast trip March 10 against the Lakers at the Staples Center. Brooklyn then traveled to San Francisco for a scheduled game March 12 against the Warriors. That game was supposed to be played in an empty arena, but the NBA suspended the season March 11, shortly after the news broke that Utah’s Rudy Gobert had become the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus.

This is not to suggest that since the Sixers were on the West Coast right before the Nets that they were in similar danger, but it shows the peril of traveling, especially in these times and to the West Coast. San Francisco, especially, has been a danger area for the virus, which is why the Nets and Warriors were at first going to play in an empty arena.

Last Thursday, a Sixers team official said that the team was trying to arrange for players and staff to receive COVID-19 testing. When contacted Tuesday for an update, a team official declined comment.

The Los Angeles Times reported after the Nets’ news broke that the Lakers plan to be tested Wednesday and self-quarantine for 14 days.

After their West Coast trip, in the Sixers’ final game before the NBA suspended the season, they hosted the Detroit Pistons on March 11. News broke over the weekend that the Pistons’ Christian Wood, who had played nearly 39 minutes against the Sixers, tested positive. So there is interest right now in the Sixers’ well-being.

Seven NBA players are known to have tested positive: the four Nets, Wood, and Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

Starting five

On June 18, 1996, the Bulls' Michael Jordan, left, received the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy from Commissioner David Stern during a ceremony in Chicago.
Charles Bennett / AP
On June 18, 1996, the Bulls' Michael Jordan, left, received the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy from Commissioner David Stern during a ceremony in Chicago.

This day in NBA history

March 18, 1996: Chicago’s Michael Jordan scored 38 points and became the 10th NBA player to reach 24,000 career points as the visiting Bulls defeated the Sixers, 98-94. Jordan played 47 minutes and shot 15-for-32 from the field, but missed all five of his three-pointers. Jordan added 11 rebounds, four assists, and just two turnovers.

Chicago played without Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Pippen had tendinitis in his right knee, and Rodman was beginning a six-game suspension for head-butting a referee. Toni Kukoc was the Bulls’ second leading scorer with 21 points.

The Sixers were led by Jerry Stackhouse, who had 31 points, despite hitting just 1 of 8 three-pointers. Vernon Maxwell added 18 points.

Passing the rock

Question: Re: your plan to discuss previous playoff games, 2 come to mind, both VS the Celtics. Eastern finals 1982 deciding game. Eastern finals 1967 deciding game 7. For something like 10 of 11 years prior to 1967 Boston had won the finals and disheartened Sixer fans. In the pivotal game in 1967 the Sixers defeated the Celtics to end the curse. As the game neared its end with the outcome assured, the crowd began to chant: “the Celtics are dead, the Celtics are dead.” Amazing and emotional.

In 1981 the Sixers seemed headed to the finals up 3 games to 1, only to lose the next 3 close games. Ugh. In 1982 the same path loomed with the Sixers up 3 games to 1 only to lose games 5 and 6 and having to play games 7 in Boston. Astonishingly, the Sixers won game seven to advance to the finals. As time was running out the Boston crowd began to chant:"beat LA, beat LA." Again amazing and emotional. Speaking of 1981, that series might fit the bill from a negative standpoint. — Ed August via email

Answer: This is a great letter, Ed. For those who didn’t see the last newsletter, we are putting together the 12 most memorable Sixers playoffs games (not exactly their best, but most memorable). We will be running these stories in The Inquirer and on Inquirer.com. We’re hoping to get feedback on some of your most memorable (send any comments to mnarducci@inquirer.com).

While not divulging the 12 games, the one you mentioned in 1967 that ended the Celtics dynasty is under heavy consideration. The Celtics had won eight straight titles before the Sixers sent them packing. There are all sorts of great moments that I have found in going through these. I saw the playoff games from the mid-1970s on, but am really interested to hear from people who saw that ’67 championship team.

We don’t have a set schedule for the series, but as soon as we do, we will announce it. We hope it’ll be a welcomed diversion during this pandemic.