More than one-third of NBA referees also are in league protocols, which has led to games with two officials and some G-League call ups, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
As the omicron variant rips through NBA players and coaches, it has reached a season-high among game officials: 36% of the league’s referees are in COVID-19 protocols, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
With 25 of the league’s 70 active referees currently in quarantine, the league has been promoting G League referees to fill out the nightly roster of games, sources said. There have been rare instances lately when only two referees — instead of the standard three — were available for games, but the NBA has continued to work to limit those occasions, sources said.
All NBA referees are required to be vaccinated and must get a booster shot before Jan. 5. While the shots help reduce the symptoms and severity of the illness, being vaccinated is not a foolproof shield against contracting the virus (particularly the easier to spread Omicron variant).
The NBA is trying to push through this wave of the virus. It has increased testing, has shortened the time positive but asymptomatic players (and referees) have to quarantine (following the CDC’s recommendations), and requires teams to bring in temporary players to fill roster spots. It will be the same with referees; the NBA is simply going to try to push through.
But it’s been more than just players who feel the effects of this surge.