Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted that rookie center James Wiseman was benched in the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers as a punishment for missing two COVID-19 tests during the All-Star break.
After missing two COVID-19 tests, Wiseman wasn't able to practice the day before the game. Wiseman, who played only in the second half, scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds but that wasn't enough as the Clippers easily beat the Warriors 130-104.
"I'm not going to go into detail, but this is all part of development as a young player," Kerr said during a videoconference with reporters after the game, per ESPN. "You got to take care of your business.
Everything matters. This was just a reaction to him missing the test and not being able to practice last night. That hurt us. And so that was the reason he did not play in the first half. I'm not going to go into any more detail than that because that's private team business, but that was the reason."
Wiseman acknowledges his mistake
"I make mistakes," Wiseman said. "I'm human and I completely forgot about the first two days of COVID testing. I tested the last two days. ... I made a huge mistake, but I most definitely will not do that again because I just got to make sure that I just be disciplined in terms of that.
... I made sure that I apologized to Coach and told him that I'm not going to do that again and make sure that I pay attention to little stuff like that, just get that done." Reporters suggested to Kerr that his action might have a negative effect on Wiseman.
"I don't agree with that," Kerr said. "He's a 19-year-old, unbelievably gifted player in his rookie year. He's really playing well. Played three college games. If you want to go back and look at the history of this league and guys like Kobe [Bryant] or Anthony Davis, or I don't know, pick any one of a number of rookies who became great players, it's a struggle.
There's very few rookies who in the history of this league who just came out ready to play, especially in the modern era where guys don't go to school and don't spend a few years preparing for the NBA. "So James is doing great, are you kidding me? All he's enduring is the normal ups and downs of what a 19-year-old, young player goes through in the NBA.
He's playing against men now, but you look at some of the things he's done, you look at the way he responded tonight in the fourth quarter and the things he's capable of, and the kind of person he is, I have no doubt James is going to be a great, great player."