Timberwolves, Mayo Clinic Spearheading COVID-19 Antibody Testing in NBA

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 20, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS - FEBRUARY 21:  The Minnesota Timberwolves logo is displayed on the court prior to the game against the San Antonio Spurs on February 21, 2008 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Spurs won 100-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

Dr. Robby Sikka, Minnesota Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Performance and Technology, and the Mayo Clinic have partnered to lead "a league-wide study that aims to establish what percentage of NBA players, coaches, executives and staff have developed antibodies against the coronavirus," according to ESPN's Malika Andrews.

The Mayo Clinic is headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota—around an hour-and-a-half away from the Timberwolves' Target Center.

"We are learning about this disease," Sikka told Andrews. "We have learned a lot in two months. So, if we can take the next two months, learn on the fly, mitigate risk, then we can move pretty quickly to do the right things to have safe play."

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported May 4 that the NBA was going to participate in an antibody study, with The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski adding that the Timberwolves "will be one of the first teams" to do so:

Jon Krawczynski @JonKrawczynski

Following up on this: the Timberwolves will be one of the first teams to participate in the antibody study, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA. Wolves and Mayo Clinic have a long-standing relationship so it makes sense for them to be involved. https://t.co/NOxlEc8UPX

The Timberwolves organization was directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic when All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns lost his 58-year-old mother, Jacqueline Towns, to complications from COVID-19 on April 13.

Minnesota Timberwolves @Timberwolves


Prior to that, Towns had donated $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic:

Jon Krawczynski @JonKrawczynski

Also just to be clear: KAT donated the money to Mayo for testing before his mother got sick. He identified that as an issue that needed addressing.

The NBA began its indefinite suspension of the 2019-20 season March 12.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly established a timeline for a decision about whether to return last week:

The Athletic NBA @TheAthleticNBA

Adam Silver and the NBA aim to make a decision on the 2019-20 season in 2-to-4 weeks. What more to know from Silver's call with owners on Tuesday -- including the potential playing grounds protocol. NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on @TheAthletic: https://t.co/sEIf8LA1dN

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

ESPN Sources: Attendees left Board of Governors call w/ Adam Silver today feeling positive about momentum toward an NBA return to play this season. Discussion included how league/players will need to get comfortable w/ some positive tests for virus not shutting down a resumption

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Sources: In discussion with BOG/owners, Silver used the term "campus environment" when referencing what's been called a bubble. Call included significant detail on how other pro sports/leagues -- here and abroad -- are working toward their returns. https://t.co/eVIiZlVxeN

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Among factors league's studying in ramp-up to final decision: Understanding trajectory of new cases, understanding who's getting severely ill and why, developments in testing and how other sports are handling positive tests among participants and continuing to play, sources say. https://t.co/tkbh9poiQD

Teams were granted permission to reopen their respective practice facilities May 8. As of Monday, 17 teams had done so:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

NBA teams that have either already opened their practice facilities or will be open for voluntary workouts as of Monday: Cavaliers Trail Blazers Nuggets Grizzlies Heat Magic Bucks Raptors Hawks Pacers Jazz Kings Lakers Clippers Rockets Pelicans

Per CNN, the United States has 1,528,568 positive COVID-19 cases that have resulted in 91,921 deaths.