In a season in which mental toughness and adaptability have been tested regularly, the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Atlanta didn’t offer any reprieve for the players.
In the morning, there was concern 76ers All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had been in contact with a barber in Philadelphia who tested positive for the coronavirus. By the early afternoon, the two had been ruled out.
‘‘‘Yeah, it’s just extremely unfortunate,’’ Bulls guard Zach LaVine said of the news. ‘‘It’s sad, but I think this is just the time that we live in right now. You just can’t be too safe.’’
LaVine, who was eliminated after the first round of the three-point contest before the game, and the Bulls know that all too well. The Bulls have had several coronavirus scares this season. Guards Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky and forward Chandler Hutchison have tested positive, and forward Lauri Markkanen and guard Ryan Arcidiacono have been in the protocol because of contact tracing.
And while several high-profile players questioned why the NBA was playing the All-Star Game amid the pandemic, LaVine said he was glad he made the trip.
‘‘I don’t think the NBA would be trying to put you into harm’s way,’’ LaVine said, fully supporting the game being played. ‘‘We’re already playing games right now anyway, so it’s pretty much just like another day. . . . It was an easy decision for me.’’
In fact, LaVine and the rest of the All-Stars might be the safest players in the NBA heading into the second half of the season. They were tested upon their arrival Saturday and again Sunday, while the rest of the league was scattered all over the place with no travel restrictions.
Bulls players are expected back in Chicago on Tuesday for testing and voluntary workouts.
This and that
The Nets entered the break with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, despite not really having their ‘‘Big Three’’ — Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant — play together much. Now they reportedly have added former Pistons forward Blake Griffin.
• Commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday that he expected most players would get the vaccine, but he said the NBA wouldn’t make it a requirement.