Storm-Lynx semifinal postponed over inconclusive COVID-19 test results

2:46 PM ET


CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

The WNBA semifinal opener between the No. 2 seed Seattle Storm and No. 4 seed Minnesota Lynx scheduled for Sunday was postponed after there were inconclusive COVID-19 test results for some Storm players. The league said the game was postponed “out of an abundance of caution.”

Players who got inconclusive results have undergone additional testing today and are currently in isolation in the bubble in Bradenton, Florida. The new date for Game 1 will be announced as developments warrant, the league said, the next game in the series originally is scheduled for Tuesday.

“Especially if there’s multiple players on a team, we really can’t take a chance to expose the bubble to any kind of community spread,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “We need to get more data to see if we have an issue.”

Engelbert said she was able to intercept the Seattle team bus with the test information Sunday before it headed to Feld Entertainment Center, where the games are held.

“It wasn’t about basketball at that point, it’s about doing the right thing,” Engelbert said. “So we could just have another day to get more testing done. This is the hardest part of COVID-19 and putting on live sports during it, is every day you’re reset to zero. The fact that we might have had 70 negatives before this doesn’t actually matter. It’s about keeping the bubble safe, making sure there’s no community spread.

“Hopefully, we’ll get good data over the next 24 to 48 hours and be back on the court with those two teams with Game 1 on Tuesday. But we’ve got to continually assess the testing. The whole team has already been tested today; we’ll test them tonight. We’re doing additional testing on those players who had these inconclusive results. You have to be right, to put the data and the science first. So far, everything has worked in the bubble because we have followed the science.”

No games in the WNBA regular season were postponed because of COVID-19 test results. There were at least three instances of players getting inconclusive results and having to sit out a game — the Las Vegas Aces’ Lindsay Allen, Los Angeles Sparks’ Te’a Cooper and Dallas Wings’ Tyasha Harris — but in all cases, the subsequent test was negative.

“The Storm organization fully supports the decision to postpone the game,” Seattle CEO and general manager Alisha Valavanis and co-owner Lisa Brummel said in a statement. “The health and safety of the WNBA players, team staffs and all those involved in the production of this season remains our top priority.”

Connecticut coach Curt Miller, whose Sun beat Las Vegas 87-62 in the first game of their semifinal Sunday, said Engelbert and players’ union executive director Terri Jackson talked to his team after their game.

“There’s anxiety for our team; everyone is so close in this league,” Miller said. “We’ve done such a great job of keeping COVID out of our bubble. Just hope that these are false positives.”

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