DETROIT – There was a group of people who played a fundamental role in the Detroit Pistons’ season -- but they didn’t do any scoring or rebounding.
Instead, they made sure the 17 players could safely play despite the COVID pandemic. The group of COVID testers said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Detroit resident Cynthia Billick was laid off from work in October 2020. She said she answered a very vague job posting. Eboni Edmondson saw the same ad. The ad was looking for a phlebotomist to work with a local team downtown.
That team was the Detroit Pistons. The company hiring was Bioreference, who partnered with the NBA to handle the COVID testing for players and team personnel.
Five people were hired. They called themselves the “Detroit Swabbers.” They were needed at all times of the day and night. But they said the perks outweighed the long hours. They got to fly on the team plane, stay in team hotels and got a taste of the pro-athlete life.
At the final game of the season, the Pistons gave them custom jerseys and had a separate suite for each tester to bring their families to the game.