New COVID protocol giving G-League players opportunity in NBA


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The NBA’s new COVID-19 protocols are having a positive impact on G-League teams, like the Birmingham Squadron.

The COVID-related Hardship Allowance is one of the newest policies that allow NBA teams to sign a new player per positive COVID case.

As of Wednesday, three players on the Squadron have been picked up by teams like the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, and the New Orleans Pelicans. Players and coaches say this new protocol is the best opportunity for them to make a name for themselves in the NBA.

“All I need is that one chance. If I get that one chance, I’m not going to lose it,” guard John Petty Jr., said.

Players like forward Zlyan Cheatham say they’ve waited for this call their entire career.

“It’s a dream come true, man. For sure,” Cheatham said.

“What is more special than being part of a journey of someone getting an opportunity to achieve their dream,” Head Coach Ryan Pannone said.

Guard Joe Young and Petty Jr. say having immediate access to the NBA is beneficial for all parties involved.

“If you bring out high intensity from the first time they bring you in and you do what they want you to do, man, they’ll love you. And that’s just an opportunity that everybody wants,” Young said.

Coach Pannone says players in the G-League are talented and have always deserved better opportunities to showcase their skills to the NBA.

“They just need a chance. They just need someone to find something in them and give them that opportunity and receive a real, authentic opportunity,” Pannone said.

Players say while this is big for them, the work to get better never stops.

“Staying in your routine. Staying ready. Just being ready for the next opportunity. And now, obviously, this is something the world has never seen before,” Cheatham said.

The Squadron hopes this protocol can change the game forever.

“You’ll find a lot of upcoming players out of no-where. Like man, this guy gotta opportunity. And that’s another way they’re going to start finding players,” Young said.

This new protocol is in effect until Jan. 19.

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