The Lynx were getting ready to warm up for the start of their WNBA semifinal game against Seattle on Sunday. Coach Cheryl Reeve was about to do her pregame news conference, but then the news:
According to the league, multiple Seattle players had inconclusive COVID-19 tests. As a result, Sunday’s game — which had been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Ch. 5 — was postponed. Talking with a network reporter on the court about the time that game was supposed to start, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the hope is retests will prove negative and the teams can open the series at 8 p.m. Tuesday, the day originally scheduled for Game 2 of this best-of-five series.
“We’ve got some tests back for the Seattle team and they were inconclusive,’’ Engelbert said in the interview. “So we really — especially when there are multiple players on a team — we really can’t take a chance to expose the bubble to any kind of community spread. We need to get more data, get more testing, get more data to see whether we have an issue or not. So we decided to postpone the game.”
Engelbert was at the hotel as Seattle was boarding the bus to the arena when the news broke. She boarded the bus, talked to the players. “They were obviously concerned,’’ she said. “We’re all concerned about health and safety. It wasn’t about basketball at that point. It was about doing the right thing.’’
Engelbert said all the Seattle players were tested early Sunday, and were scheduled to be retested Sunday night. “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,” she said.
Storm CEO and GM Alisha Valavanis and co-owner Lisa Brummel issued a statement in full support of the postponement.
The Lynx did not comment.
This has happened before this season, to a lesser degree. Tyasha Harris of Dallas, T’ea Cooper of Los Angeles and Lindsay Allen of Las Vegas all missed games this season after inconclusive tests. All three eventually tested negative and returned to action after missing a game.
But this is the first WNBA game postponed for COVID-19 reasons all year in the bubble environment in Bradenton, Fla. The NBA and NHL have had similar success in their bubbles, while the non-bubble environments in Major League Baseball and college football have led to numerous postponements this year.
“You have to be right,’’ Engelbert said. “You have to put the data, the science, first. While we would have liked to have had a game right now on ABC, because we’re in the WNBA semifinals, you have to follow the data and the science. So far everything has worked in the bubble because we followed the science.”
The Star Tribune did not travel to Florida for WNBA coverage.