Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant was pulled from the starting lineup and later in the third quarter during Friday's game against the Toronto Raptors

By Georgia Slater
February 06, 2021 12:30 PM
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Kevin Durant
Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets was missing one of its star players during Friday night's game after Kevin Durant was pulled from the starting lineup and later removed during the third quarter due to COVID-19 protocols.

Durant, who is usually a starting player for Nets, was forced to miss the beginning of the game against the Toronto Raptors as the athlete came in contact with someone on Friday who returned an inconclusive COVID-19 test just hours before the game, according to ESPN.

The NBA star, 32, was eventually cleared to return to the bench shortly after the start of the first quarter. This marked Durant's first appearance as a reserve in his 867 NBA games.

The drama continued in the third quarter after Durant's contact tested positive for COVID-19.

Durant was told he had to leave the game as he was sitting on the bench waiting for officials to review his fifth foul of the night, which was eventually overturned. The athlete had only played 19 minutes in the game.

A frustrated Durant was then seen throwing his water bottle as he walked off the court and made his way toward the locker room for further contact tracing. The athlete, who tested positive for COVID-19 last March, continued to voice his aggravation on social media, later tweeting, "Free me."

Sources told ESPN that Durant will not travel to Philadelphia for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers and could miss multiple games this month.

Prior to Friday's game — which the Raptors won 123-117 — Durant had already missed three games this season due to health and safety protocols, according to the NBA.

The NBA later cleared up the situation, noting that they removed Durant from the game out of an "abundance of caution."

Durant, however, was not pleased with the league's reasoning.

"Yo @nba, your fans aren't dumb!!!! You can't fool em with your Wack ass PR tactics.. #FREE7," he later tweeted.

Durant's teammate James Harden also expressed his confusion in a post-game interview, saying that the game should have been "postponed."

"We get tested every single day, and he's been negative. So I don't understand what the problem is," Harden said. "If that was the case, the game should have been postponed. We're talking about contact tracing, he was around all of us. I don't understand why he wasn't allowed to play, and then was able to play, then taken back off the court."

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