The NBA’s official 2019–20 season has been suspended and two teams have been placed into quarantine after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus.
The National Basketball Association announced the suspension of play Wednesday night, soon after the Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed just before it began. It was later reported that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN.
Developing Story: OKC Thunder/Utah Jazz players walk out of arena before the game begins. Illnesses before the game caused a delay. They’re waiting on the NBA to issue further instruction.
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) March 12, 2020
The NBA suspended its season “until further notice” just a short time after the league had instituted a temporary ban on having fans in the arenas for future games and after Gobert mocked COVID-19 on Monday and touched every mic at a press conference.
— Dave Fox (@Davefox2) March 12, 2020
Players in Wednesday’s game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City were already in pre-game warm-ups when both teams abruptly left the court and headed back to the locker rooms. An announcement was made to the filled arena that the game had been postponed but there was no reason given at the time.
Jazz vs. Thunder game postponed announcement: pic.twitter.com/c0k9jHmDXh
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 12, 2020
Meanwhile, four other games were underway along the East Coast and the New Orleans Pelicans – Sacramento Kings games were supposed to kick off in California later Wednesday.
Official word from the NBA on Kings-Pelicans cancellation: pic.twitter.com/GUlo31pCwO
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) 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 individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of [Wednesday], however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19,” the statement continued.
The team “immediately informed the league office” when it was learned the player needed to be tested and added that “the individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City.”
This is an unfortunate situation for the entire NBA community – players, coaches, officials, the thousands of arena staffers, many who are hourly employees. But we’re glad the NBA has made health and safety the priority, and we look forward to getting back on the court soon. https://t.co/MG6jc2B8m4
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) March 12, 2020
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.
NBA To Suspend Season Following Tonight’s Games pic.twitter.com/2PTx2fkLlW
— NBA (@NBA) March 12, 2020
A source told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that players who had faced the Jazz team within the past 10 days were told to self-quarantine. The team has played against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors during that time.
Gobert was not at the arena Wednesday night but was reportedly at the hotel in Oklahoma City.
Sources say Gobert is feeling good, strong and stable — and was feeling strong enough to play tonight.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 12, 2020
Referees at Wednesday’s game called over head coaches Quin Snyder and Billy Donovan after Thunder director of medical services Donnie Strack had come onto the court to speak to the game’s officials.
Thunder and Jazz players were sent back to the locker room as officials wait for confirmation from the NBA to start the game. pic.twitter.com/xW9sC7OKN7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2020
Jazz players reportedly told Thunder guard Chris Paul to move away when he asked, “What’s wrong with Rudy?”
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
The teams left the court as confused fans were still trying to figure out what happened.
According to ESPN:
It was more than three hours after the cancellation of the game; a black curtain shut the tunnel leading to the Jazz locker room and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathered to discuss their plan. Another 30 minutes passed before they stepped foot into the Jazz locker room to individually swab each player’s cheek.
Workers reportedly were sanitizing the areas after fans had left the building.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2020
NBA superstar LeBron James was among many who reacted to the unfolding events and shocking announcement from the NBA.
Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! ??♂️. Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe??
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 12, 2020
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