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Op-Ed – Ten Bulls players placed on COVID list by NBA

With a 17-10 record in the Eastern Conference standings, the Chicago Bulls charged through the month of November with huge wins over top-ranked opponents such as the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets.

But suddenly, that would all change after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19 and were forced to enter into the League’s Health and Safety protocols.

According to several reports, the 10 Bulls players who tested positive and were forced into the League’s Health and Safety protocols on December were Coby White, DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green, Alize Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr., Troy Brown Jr., Stanley Johnson, Ayo Dosunmu, Matt Thomas, and most recently, Zach LaVine.

Following back-to-back losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, the Bulls were forced to postpone two games last week due to a depleted roster.

In a recent interview with NBC Sports Chicago and Bulls beat writer KC Johnson, DeRozan spoke to Johnson about the team’s loss of players and the NBA’s current COVID situation. DeRozan’s response was pretty blunt.

“It’s just mentally exhausting just seeing everything that’s going on around the League, just being affected by it,” said DeRozan via NBC Sports Chicago. “It can be frustrating, it can be confusing, it can be a lot of things at once. It’s just something we’ve got to continue to deal with, try and maneuver around it and make the most of it.”

According to Johnson, DeRozan practiced for the first time since he entered the League’s Health and Safety protocols on December 6. DeRozan said he felt fine during his mandated absence but responded to Johnson jokingly, “Only symptom I had was boredom, honestly,” and he understands that the NBA isn’t immune from the challenges affecting any business.

This response by DeRozan in his interview with Johnson sparked my interest to question the League’s timing of the decision to send 10 Bulls players into the League’s Health and Safety protocols in December.

I wondered if this was a “COVID-19 health issue” or possibly a “business decision” made by the League?


Two weeks ago, DeRozan was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week following a League investigation that resulted in the Bulls losing their second-round pick for early tampering with free agent Lonzo Ball during the summer of 2021.

Some around the League felt that the Bulls penalty was pretty mild, compared to others who were penalized for violating the same tampering rule. Others felt it was only a “smack on the wrist” and that the penalty should have been harsher.

The results led to several fans and sports enthusiasts voicing their concerns via social media:

“Bulls don’t have their own second-round pick until 2026. Heat don’t own the rights to their own second-round pick until 2028. So while the NBA is making both teams forfeit their next second-round picks, the NBA will have to wait a long, long time until the penalty actually sets in,” said Mike Vorkunov of the Athletic via Twitter.

“A second-round pick? So basically, tampering is ok,” said @JVGsCivic via Twitter.

“If this is the penalty, teams will continue to tamper. Business as usual come July,” said @TheCooler via Twitter.

After the uproar from both groups via social media, the League was forced to do something about the soft penalty.

And how do you make a statement against a team who fans believed received a soft penalty?

Answer: Deplete the roster with 10 false-positive tests.

Now before you raise an eyebrow about my Bulls conspiracy theory on how the League produced 10 false-positive tests for our players alone, ask yourself how did Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and guard Russell Westbrook miraculously overcome two false-positive tests within a 24-hour period themselves? One word: “Money.”

Just recently, the League ignored the positive test results of both James and Westbrook, so that the two can play in a huge marquee match-up game versus the Bulls this weekend.

According to the NBA, Westbrook was recently cleared by the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols on Friday, December 17, and James avoided missing several games by producing a random negative test two weeks ago. James’ test was immediately overturned after posting a tweet questioning the League’s testing policy:

“Something fishy is going on,” James said.

A day later the test results were overturned.

Now that’s a conspiracy.

Joseph 1 1
Joseph G. Phillips


Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].





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Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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