Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been ruled out of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night after the two players were in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 in Philadelphia, the league announced Sunday. With the game just hours away, neither player will be replaced in the event, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The individual who tested positive was reportedly a barber used by both Embiid and Simmons. After an inconclusive initial test, the barber was retested, and that result also came back positive.
Embiid and Simmons both traveled to Atlanta on Saturday night, and they have since remained in quarantine in their respective rooms. At this point, it's not completely clear for how long they may have to remain in quarantine. Given the fact that players from a multitude of markets will be playing in the game, the league doesn't want to take any risks.
Embiid was selected as a starter for the annual exhibition for the fourth straight season, while Simmons was selected as a reserve for the third year in a row. In the All-Star draft for the game, Embiid was picked to play for Team Durant, while Simmons was selected to play for Team LeBron. Taking Embiid's place in the starting lineup for Team Durant is Zion Williamson, per Wojnarowski.
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On Saturday, Embiid announced that he would be donating his earnings from the All-Star game to Philadelphia homeless shelters.
"So many have fallen on such hard times during the pandemic," Embiid said in a statement. "I felt it was important to provide more support for individuals and families struggling with homelessness and food insecurity. I'm continually grateful for all of the support that Philadelphia and the fans have given me not just around All-Star but all my years in the league. I will continue to help in any way I can."
The fact that Embiid and Simmons will be sidelined for the event is unfortunate for the fans who were excited to see Philadelphia's top two players compete against the rest of the league's best. The Sixers now have to hope that their two stars remain healthy themselves, and won't have to miss regular season action when the second half resumes. Philadelphia's first game after the break is against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, March 11.