Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford is returning to the team after testing positive for COVID-19. Clifford cleared NBA health and safety protocols and will be back on the bench Wednesday night when the Magic host the Boston Celtics, the team announced on Monday. He won't be available for Orlando's game against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, as the team traveled on Sunday. So in all, Clifford will have missed six games due to the positive tests.
Clifford originally tested positive for the virus on April 22 , and that was followed by another positive test on April 24. Magic assistant Tyrone Corbin has filled in for Clifford during his absence and Orlando has gone 3-2 without their head coach so far. At 21-44 and sitting in 13th place, the Magic are completely out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining on their schedule.
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Despite receiving both doses of the Moderna vaccine, Clifford still tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily, he has been asymptomatic and feeling well.
"I feel fine," Clifford said in late April. "I have no temperature. I feel 100 percent ... I feel comfortable that I'm not really in danger. That with the fact that my temperature, my oxidation numbers, how I feel, I have no side effects right now, I'm very comfortable with that."
After a brutal winter in which nearly every team in the league dealt with positive COVID-19 cases, leading to 31 games to be postponed and rescheduled, things are much more under control at this point in the season. There hasn't been a single postponement due to COVID-19 since March 2, and in the latest round of testing, just three of 488 players tested positive.
Much of that is due to the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, which every adult in the United States is now eligible to receive. Legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell have filmed PSAs urging people to get the vaccine, and a number of teams and players have posted pictures and videos to social media showing them receiving the shot.