Sue Bird is among three Seattle Storm players to enter COVID-19 protocols

The Seattle Storm They were missing nearly a quarter of their roster – including permanent and WNBA All-Stars So Bird – During Friday’s overtime win 79-71 against New York Liberty After three players have entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Stephanie Talbot He was the first player announced to have entered health and safety protocols on Thursday, before Byrd and Azi Magbegor Added to the casualty list on Friday afternoon. The storm was already without mercedes contact To start the season due to a non-basketball injury. The team signed Keanna Williams a hardship contract as a result of all the absences.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s the time we are in,” Storm coach Noel Quinn said. “We’ve been through it before and know how to adapt to it.”

Friday’s game in Seattle was the first of consecutive home games against Liberty, as the mini-series concluded on Sunday. Storm gave up its 16-point lead in the second half on Friday but managed to hand Liberty a 6-1 loss for their sixth straight loss.

According to the WNBA’s COVID-19 rules, players are only tested if they have symptoms. Their return to play is a specific symptom, but players can generally be disqualified after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Earlier in the season, the MVP in the finals twice Briana Stewart And the Prince Epiphany He also missed a pair of games for Seattle due to health and safety protocols. At the time, Stewart criticized the WNBA’s travel policy banning rentals, meaning she contracted the virus from commercial flying.

“As a team, we were really trying to navigate health and safety protocols and trying to be safe and do the right thing,” Stewart said after earning 31 points and nine rebounds on Friday. “Especially to find out all this on match day and then we’re told, ‘We’re going to keep playing the game, just find a tough player. And Seattle is the farthest city in the country that anyone can reach.

“We’re just trying to get as hard as we can at this point…but a little help and guidance from the WNBA would be great.”

Asked what that might entail, Stewart said, “I don’t know what the right answer is. I think it’s just a better answer than ‘Get a tough guy.’ At 11 am, at 7 am. I know the schedule is tight.” Really. This is the second time this has happened on match day. It’s a bit frustrating.”

Teammate Joel Lloyd, who had 21 points on Friday, raised the fact that no G League could attract players like the NBA this season when they faced COVID-19’s absence from their roster.

“If we had League G, it would be useful,” Lloyd said. “If we have some practicing players in our system, you can opt out of that. [Where] They are actually here in the market, they don’t travel hence they have to play a game. I mean, that’s ridiculous.”

As for Storm with five players out so far this season due to COVID-19, Quinn said, “I know our players are doing their best…Our team is very professional.”

There were eight WNBA players who went into health and safety protocols during the first three weeks of the regular season. Phoenix Sophie Cunningham and Atlanta Monique Billings He also missed games recently due to COVID-19.

ESPN’s Michael Voebel contributed to this report.