When team president Gersson Rosas put together a revamped Minnesota front office, he didn’t want to stick to the mold of just bringing in basketball people. With studies showing group decision making improves with a diversity of views, Rosas brought in people from outside basketball, including anesthesiologist Dr. Robby Sikka.
Sikka, one of the most interesting people I have spoken to around the league, help set up the health and training programs around the Timberwolves, bringing an outside the box mentality.
He’s also at the heart of a league-wide effort, led by the Timberwolves, where teams are participating in a Mayo Clinic led coronavirus antibodies study. Malika Andrews of ESPN detailed the study and the NBA’s involvement, which is also backed by the players’ union.
Now, Sikka and the Mayo Clinic — an academic medical center headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota — are spearheading a leaguewide study that aims to establish what percentage of NBA players, coaches, executives and staff have developed antibodies to the coronavirus.
The initiative, which is supported by the league office and the players’ association, is expected to have the participation of all 30 teams.
Assessing the prevalence of antibodies in NBA personnel will help teams identify which people might have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19. The study is expected to be completed in June.
One key part of this study is it uses a finger-prick method to draw a drop of blood, then uses that for detecting antibodies. One key hope for the study is showing this easier method is just as accurate as drawing more blood with a syringe in detecting COVID-19 antibodies.
As the league looks at restarting the season in a centralized location, knowing with players and team staff have the antibodies can be a help in setting up as safe an environment as possible. Plus, anything players and NBA can do to help grow the understanding of the coronavirus, the better it is for society as a whole. Major League Baseball teams participated in a similar study done by Stanford.
In Minnesota, this hits home — Karl-Anthony Towns‘ mother died due to complications from COVID-19. Those kinds of random, unfortunate deaths leave everyone looking for answers and a way to help, this is a small step down that road. That all 30 teams are participating speaks to the league is a plus.
It’s a step down the road of how we all ultimately get through this (and, hopefully, get basketball back soon).