After taking the initial step to play games in empty arenas, the NBA stated on Wednesday night that all games will be suspended until further notice after a Utah Jazz player, reportedly Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The G-League has also suspended play. The games will be suspended for at least two weeks, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made it known that teams are still allowed to practice, but are not supposed to have visitors from out of town. Also, per a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, teams who played the Jazz in the last 10 days have been told to self-quarantine. That includes the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly before the tip-off of Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, Wednesday’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.
The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this break to determine the next steps for moving forward regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the Thunder-Jazz game on Wednesday, it was reported that Gobert — who was not at the arena — and Emmanuel Mudiay were out with an illness. Once the infected Jazz player’s (Gobert) diagnosis was confirmed, the game was officially postponed with both Jazz and Thunder players being quarantined, per Tony Jones of The Athletic.
Later Wednesday night, the Jazz released a statement:
This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat, and an upper respiratory infection. The individual’s symptoms diminished throughout today; 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.
A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game. Subsequently, the decision was correctly made by the NBA to postpone that game. When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office. The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions.
We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma, and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how to best move forward as we gather more information. The individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City. In coordination with the NBA and state officials, we will provide updates at the appropriate time.
This has all escalated very quickly as news on the worldwide spread of the virus has become increasingly dire. On Monday, it was announced that the NBA would be limiting locker room access to only essential team personnel — including coaches, front office executives, basketball and PR staff — before and after games. Additionally, creating six to eight feet of space between the players and media members during availability sessions outside of team locker rooms became a mandate.
The Golden State Warriors became the first team to take the next step, announcing on Wednesday that the team would play its home games without fans in attendance, following the San Francisco Health Office’s order prohibiting groups of 1,000 or more people at events. Golden State’s game against the Nets on Thursday night was set to be the first empty-arena game, and it was widely expected that other teams would soon follow suit.
The fact that Gobert is the first confirmed NBA player — at least reportedly — to have contracted the coronavirus is exponentially more worrisome, or at least creepy, given Gobert’s actions on Monday night. Not knowing he had the virus at the time, Gobert thought it would be funny to make a point of touching all the microphones and recorders that were sitting on the podium at his media availability