Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert is under fire for mocking the coronavirus panic just days before being tested positive himself as the NBA officially suspended the rest of the game season.
Gobert was listed as “questionable” due to illness just before Wednesday’s game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder which was postponed, then canceled as reports revealed he had been diagnosed with the contagious COVID-19.
— Dave Fox (@Davefox2) March 12, 2020
Following a pre-game meeting in an interview room earlier in the week, Gobert apparently made a joke of the league’s precautions by touching several microphones and the table before he left the room.
“As part of the Jazz’s COVID-19 response, shootaround availability was done in the ZBBC media room today rather than on the court. As Rudy Gobert got finished discussing the situation, he stood up, leaned over and made it a point to touch every mic and recorder in front of him,” Salt Lake Tribune‘s Eric Walden reported.
On the Rudy Gobert microphone incident: at the time, I actually took it as a measure of support for the media. We were being told to keep 6-8 feet away from them on the assumption that we might infect a player. I thought it was Rudy thumbing his nose at the separation between us.
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) March 12, 2020
Gobert was not at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night but was reportedly at the hotel when the teams, who were moments from the tip-ff of the game, abruptly left the court. The packed arena was eventually emptied as the announcement was made about the game.
NBA players walk off court, head to self-quarantine amid coronavirus diagnosis; NBA suspends all games https://t.co/zgiSP8D0dQ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 12, 2020
A player “tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection,” the Jazz said in a statement without naming who the team member was.
The NBA released a statement announcing the suspension of play for the season.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the statement read.
Gobert’s actions on Monday, before he knew he had the virus, were slammed for the bad optics in hindsight as questions arose about how many other NBA players he may have come in contact with. The team has played against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors in the last two weeks.
Twitter users raked the 27-year-old over the coals.
I got nothing. I am speechless
I hate you @rudygobert27
— Stephen A. Smith Burner (@SASBurnerAcct) March 12, 2020
I don’t think you can defend this. This is exactly the additive that has led to it getting out of control. He would’ve been advised how serious it was. He’s a role model and just made a mockery of measures taken to protect the vulnerable.
Drawing a really long bow here.
— Joel David Fleming (@JoelDFleming) March 12, 2020
When he recovers he should be jailed.
— Bryan Mercurio (@mercuriobryan) March 12, 2020
Rudy Gobert: pic.twitter.com/sYLQf3ji25
— Clark??☄️? (@OprahSide) March 12, 2020
Karma comes at you fast sometimes
— Jimmy from the BX (@BloodwingBX) March 12, 2020
@NBA needs to fine him or something- even though he may not have known at the time, those behaviors were highly inappropriate
— bridget d ?️? (@bcd318) March 12, 2020
But there were some on Twitter who suggested a different reaction and sent Gobert some support.
It was obviously reckless, but heck, nearly everyone I know has made a coronavirus distance joke at some point this week.
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) March 12, 2020
— Jessica Baker (@jessbaker104) March 12, 2020
Every single person on this app has cracked a coronavirus joke over the course of the last few months. So why the hell is everyone taking shots at Rudy? He is human and had no idea, nor could he control the attraction of this virus.
— Trevor Uptain (@trevor_uptain) March 12, 2020
My first thought for Rudy Gobert is for his health. A distant second is sadness that his entire career may be defined by contracting coronavirus. Especially for a guy who worked so hard to go from nothing to the best defender in the world. Life is unfair. Get well soon, Rudy.
— Zach Bloxham (@zblox) March 12, 2020
I want to be clear that Gobert, as much as he showed some poor judgment earlier this week, deserves our sympathy, prayers, and support, just as all who contract the illness do.
Rudy is a basketball hero and a cool dude. He’s been my cover photo for months. Wish him the very best.
— Brendan Taz Cannon (@jazzwithtaz) March 12, 2020
Crazy how it’s “prayers up” when a player breaks their finger but Rudy Gobert contracts a deadly virus and all he gets is hate y’all make me sick
— brady (@zronocutycon) March 12, 2020
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