Phoenix centre Deandre Ayton has felt the wrath of fans after being made to sit out the first quarter of his side's must-win NBA game for failing to take his scheduled coronavirus test.
Ayton was scheduled to take a test the day before the game against Oklahoma, but was sidelined after missing it.
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The Suns are in a desperate battle to secure eighth spot in the Western Conference and a spot in the Playoffs, making his breach that much harder to fathom.
Phoenix went into the game against the Thunder as the hottest team in the NBA bubble, with five straight victories leaving them just outside the top eight.
Despite missing his test, Ayton still played for the Suns from the second quarter onwards after taking a test on the morning of the match, which came back negative.
The Thunder capitalised on Ayton's absence in the first quarter to jump out to a 37-23 lead, before the centre helped guide his side to their sixth straight win.
Ayton finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes of the 128-101 win.
Following the contest, Suns coach Monty Williams said his player made an innocent mistake when he missed the test.
Suns head coach Monty Williams says Deandre Ayton made an innocent mistake by missing his coronavirus test yesterday, and he wasn’t the first one on the team to make the mistake. Ayton did get his test his negative test early this morning in time to play in the Thunder game.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 10, 2020
“We’ve said in an NBA season, guys are going to make mistakes,” head coach Monty Williams told reporters. “You have to be able to give people grace. It wasn’t intentional and thankfully he was able to get tested early enough to get the results back so he could come and play.
“The guys received him with open arms because we all understand we’re human. We have to be better. We know that, but he’s not only one that’s done since we’ve been here. It just happens.”
Fans take aim at Ayton over missed test
Ayton's coach may have played down his star player's breach but fans were not as forgiving, particularly given a Playoffs spot is at stake for the team.
this is how Devin Booker's gonna be looking at Ayton on the bench today pic.twitter.com/9vyOO6cqe7— sreekar (@sreekyshooter) August 10, 2020
Broadcast says Deandre Ayton missed his COVID-19 testing on Sunday, which is why he's not playing for the Suns today.— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) August 10, 2020
That is absolutely inexcusable.
Not what the no-margin-for-error Suns needed ... but perhaps Ayton can atone in the second half. Major letdown for Phoenix after such an uplifting ride to this point ... https://t.co/3bL0tRSMe7— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 10, 2020
I defended Deandre Ayton when he got suspended and gave him the benefit of the doubt. But his actions today reflect an incredible amount of not only lack of maturity — but selfishness and lack of respect for his teammates and fanbase.— Andrew (@AndrewLeezus) August 10, 2020
In the bubble to miss a test when you are 5-0 trying to get in the playoffs. Unacceptable!!! Always stuck up for the kid but this just shows me he has not hart.— Rusty Shackleford (@RustySh11142330) August 10, 2020
Typical NBA super fool.— Charles McDaniels JR (@SCdashChick) August 10, 2020
At some point Deandre Ayton needs to grow up. Don’t talk about it, be about it.— Andrew (@AndrewLeezus) August 10, 2020