March 23, 2016 | by Erik Horne| NewsOK
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving left a Feb. 21 game against the Thunder with “flu-like symptoms,” but what raised eyebrows were Irving’s comments the next day about the Skirvin Hilton.
When Irving blamed his bad night’s sleep on bedbugs, it fostered concern about one of Oklahoma City’s premier stops for NBA teams. What once was a hotel known primarily for its legend of Effie the housekeeper haunting its halls, the Skirvin has had to recently tangle with more than ghost stories.
It’s been a month since Irving’s run-in with bedbugs and the Skirvin’s swift response. In that span, some NBA teams have elected to stay elsewhere despite the Skirvin going to lengths to alleviate fears.
In a press release to The Oklahoman, the Skirvin said it’s reached out to numerous teams following the bedbugs incident to brief them on its “aggressive” response: quarantine of the affected room, then inspection of the surrounding rooms from environmental experts at Ecolab — a globally recognized hygiene technology company.
The Ecolab tests found surrounding rooms weren’t affected, yet all 225 rooms were treated as a precaution.
Despite the Skirvin’s efforts, the Thunder has since hosted five home games and only one of its opponents (Portland) has stayed there. At least two of those teams, however, had long-standing relationships with other hotels.
“Yeah, worried about bedbugs,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said on March 9. “It was really … I think once that happened I think everyone pretty much reacted and decided to change the place.”
The Skirvin said a few teams have opted to stay in other hotels, but even those teams have expressed their desire to eventually return to the Skirvin. When NBA teams book reservations, however, it’s not as easy as just picking any hotel.
According to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article XVIII, Section I), teams have to use their best efforts in accommodating its players on the road. Baggage has to be picked up by porters, the hotels must be first class and extra long beds must be available. Teams can actually be fined $5,000 if they commit a “willful violation” of these requirements.