Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka caught a breakthrough case of COVID-19 and had to appear at the team's media day on Monday via video conference.
President of basketball operations Brad Stevens informed reporters of Udoka's status, telling them that COVID-19 "hasn’t hit him like it’s hit others." Udoka later told reporters via video conference that his symptoms are minor and he wouldn't have suspected that he had COVID-19 were it not for a close contact that prompted him to get tested.
"I'm feeling normal as possible," Udoka told reporters. "Outside of a slight headache, I'm feeling regular. Hoping to get back tomorrow."
Udoka has been in isolation, but hopes to join the team in person on Tuesday at training camp at the conclusion of his 10-day quarantine. Udoka joined the Celtics this offseason to replace Stevens after the former head coach moved to the front office. This is the first NBA head coaching job for the former player who's been an assistant coach in the league since 2012.
Celtics not 100% vaccinated
Stevens and Udoka both confirmed that not every player on the team has received a COVID-19 vaccination.
“Our hope is that we get as close to 100% vaccinated as possible as soon as possible,” Stevens told reporters.
Enes Kanter urges teammates to get vaccinated
The Celtics confirmation arrives two days after Rolling Stone's Matt Sullivan reported that the Celtics "had multiple players unvaccinated," citing center Enes Kanter. Kanter urged his teammates to get vaccinated through the Rolling Stone report.
“If you’re a player and you’re not vaccinated and you miss a week or two weeks, it could literally change the whole season — and we’re trying to win a championship,” Kanter said, per Sullivan.
A devout Muslim, Kanter addressed people citing religion as a reason to avoid being vaccinated.
“If a guy’s not getting vaccinated because of his religion, I feel like we are in a time where the religion and science has to go to together,” Kanter told Sullivan. “I’ve talked to a lot of religious guys — I’m like: ‘It saves people’s lives, so what is more important than that?’”
No major religion has come out against taking a COVID-19 vaccine. Outgoing NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill in July that 10% of the league's players remained unvaccinated. NBA players don't face a vaccine mandate, but coaches and team staff do.
"Guys have been informed and educated pretty vigorously on the vaccine and its benefits," Udoka said Monday. ... Guys have to make a choice at the end of the day. ... The closer we can get to 100% the better for our team."