Shortly before tip off Wednesday night, a voice came over the loudspeaker at Chesapeake Bay Energy Arena in Oklahoma City that the scheduled game between the Thunder and the Utah Jazz would be delayed, per ESPN.
NBA Suspends 2019-2020 Season
The Thunder and Jazz were led back into their locker rooms, where the Jazz and their staff would remain well into the night, wearing medical masks and gloves, waiting for the results of the tests that had been administered to them for the coronavirus, COVID-19.
The NBA‘s patient zero was strangely, its reigning Defensive Player of the Year—Rudy Gobert, who is said to have felt he was in playing condition shortly before receiving his positive diagnosis. Before his own diagnosis, Gobert had reportedly been somewhat mocking of concerns around the virus, having touched LITERALLY all of the microphones at a press conference before touching his face the other day, and, per Woj, “Jazz players privately say that Rudy Gobert had been careless in the locker room touching other players and their belongings.”
Shortly after news of Gobert’s positive diagnosis surfaced, the league office acted decisively and unilaterally to suspend the NBA season with the conclusion of Wednesday night’s slate. The final game on the night’s slate, the New Orleans Pelicans at the Sacramento Kings, ended up being cancelled as well, as Pelicans players refused to take the floor as a referee for the game had been present at Monday’s Utah Jazz game.
The NBA was confirmed to be correct in its quick action when it was confirmed that the virus had transferred from Rudy Gobert to Jazz teammate and fellow NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell. Some are of course, pointing fingers and blame at Rudy Gobert given his documented history of indifference toward prevention of COVID19 spread. I for one feel for any elderly media or staff members who interacted with the Jazz over the passed several days, as well as stadium employees across the NBA who are now out of an income.
With each player on each team the Jazz played over the last 10 days in self-quarantine, and the league—and the world—in frenzy, it is unclear when the next time we’ll see NBA basketball again. While I was writing this article, multiple college basketball tournaments, the MLB, and the NHL all suspended or delayed their seasons.
Hopefully there will be more clarity once the NBA’s Board of Governors convenes this afternoon. For now, this has been the most chaotic 24 hours in NBA history.
Image Source: AP Images