On July 14, Harrison Barnes disclosed that he had tested positive for the coronavirus before the team left for Orlando. Consequently, his trip to the NBA bubble was delayed while he went through the health and safety protocol.
After the team’s last scrimmage game on Monday, when Barnes made his on-court debut, the Sacramento Kings forward revealed that he was not the only member of his family to contract the virus — both his wife and his mother tested positive for the coronavirus. While Barnes was primarily asymptomatic, they were not so fortunate.
“In my household, my wife and my mom also tested positive for COVID[-19],” Barnes said. “My wife was sick, really sick for about a week. My mom was sick for a couple of days. In our house, we were able to see different ranges of how COVID can hit your system, how serious it is, and how important it is to put on a mask, social distance.
“I myself was not affected in terms of how I felt, but in my household it was noted.”
Fortunately, Barnes said that both women have recovered, though it was touch-and-go for a moment as to whether he would even be able to join the Kings in Orlando.
“It puts it in perspective,” Barnes said. “The people you love not able to get out of bed, going through the gamut of symptoms, so, there was a period ... where depending on if they were going to have to go to the hospital, you know, I wasn’t going to be able to come down here. But they’re doing much better now, they have little to no symptoms.”
Barnes’ experience with the coronavirus shows just how tenuous the situation is for everyone during the pandemic. Three other Kings tested positive for the coronavirus, and though Buddy Hield and Jabari Parker appear to be fully recovered while Alex Len works his way back into shape, there is no way of knowing what the long-term impact of this will be on any of them.
On Monday, it appeared that Barnes had fallen into the Hield/Parker camp. After barely clearing quarantine and going through a single practice, Barnes played over 21 minutes in his first game action. He scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, and earned six trips to the free throw line, his jump shot improving over the course of the game. Barnes wasn’t part of the team’s comeback down the stretch, but it was important for him to start getting his wind back with the first seeding game on Friday.
“It’s been a rush since yesterday,” Barnes said. “Early morning test, getting out, practicing, getting some shots up, then playing today’s game. It just feels great to be out there. Physically, I feel good, rhythm-wise, a lot of things that, you know, can be tightened up and improved on, but luckily I have a few more days to try to do that before the Spurs game.”
Luke Walton echoed how helpful it was to have Barnes with the team, even if just for one scrimmage game.
“Having Harrison back is a big bonus for us,” Walton said. “Harrison was in much better shape than I would have thought, I mean he only joined us in practice yesterday, he’s still getting used to the time zone and everything else, and then going into the third scrimmage game where both teams are playing a little harder. I thought he looked pretty good.”
Adjusting to basketball in a bubble pales in comparison to the real-life challenges Barnes has faced recently. After what he has gone through, the rest of this NBA restart journey should be much simpler.