The 2019-20 NBA season has been suspended indefinitely after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. The virus, which was declared a pandemic on March 11 by the World Health Organization, is forcing closures and cancellations throughout the world as public health officials seek to slow the spread.
Although Gobert reportedly was not in the Chesapeake Energy Arena for tonight’s scheduled game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the fact that he’d traveled with the team led league decision-makers to postpone the contest in an attempt to prevent the infection of other players. The NBA then quickly moved forward in announcing its decision to put the season on hiatus until the next steps are determined for the global pandemic.
According to reports, teams that have played the Jazz over the past 10 days have been directed to self-quarantine. Those teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.
The Wizards most recent game was against the Knicks. In the past 10 days, they faced the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, which is one of the coronavirus hot spots.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for Coronavirus.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2020
NBA has suspended its season. pic.twitter.com/YPV1SVj2gp
ESPN NBA writer Royce Young reported via Twitter the developing situation in Oklahoma City before the Jazz/Thunder game was scheduled to tip-off.
The situation as I understand it: Gobert was being tested pregame and the league wanted confirmation he didn’t have the virus before clearing the game to play. That’s why Quin Snyder initially said he was out, then it was changed to questionable. They thought he might play.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 12, 2020
Prior to tip-off as the game was delayed, Chris Paul ran over to the Utah bench and said “what’s wrong with Rudy?” and they all yelled for him to get away. Now all the players are quarantined in their locker rooms, being tested for the virus.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 12, 2020
I've been told that Rudy Gobert was never at the arena tonight, but he was in OKC. If he had been cleared of the virus, he was set to play.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 12, 2020
Earlier on Wednesday, NBA owners had come to a consensus that the season would either continue without fans in attendance or go on an indefinite hiatus until further review. The positive test later in the day accelerated the timeline for suspending the season.
Several teams were willing to put the games on hiatus, but the rest wanted to move toward eliminating fans from arenas to continue playing games, sources tell ESPN. One team wanted to keep status quo until a governmental/public mandate dictated change: The New York Knicks.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 12, 2020
The COVID-19 virus has swiftly gone from social media jokes to pandemic, and among its casualties are popular sporting events, including the NBA season, NCAA athletic tournaments, the upcoming WNBA season in May, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Although the latter events are a few months away, it’s unclear when it will make sense for large public gatherings to resume.