The NBA has suspended the rest of the season after a player tested positive for the new coronavirus. The league says they “will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward.”
The shocking announcement that the NBA’s season has been halted comes after Wednesday night’s Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder game was postponed after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert fell ill. On air, prior to the postponement, the Thunder broadcast team said officials had delayed the game due to Gobert being sick.
Moments later, it was revealed that Gobert had indeed tested positive for coronavirus, and the NBA then announced that the season was on hold. While the NBA didn't mention Gobert by name, only saying that a “player on the Utah Jazz has preliminary tested positive for COVID-19” and “the test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off,” multiple outlets confirmed it was Gobert.
According to ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz and Thunder players were quarantined in the Oklahoma City arena following Gobert’s positive test.
Interestingly, after the league said it was considering playing games in front of empty arenas as the crisis grew this week, Gobert mocked those concerns by purposely touching reporters’ microphones and recorders following a press conference.
After the bombshell announcement was dropped Wednesday night, a handful of games that were still ongoing did wrap up, including the New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks.
Furthermore, it appeared that the league was going to allow the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings contest, which wasn’t scheduled until 10:30 p.m. ET as it was in California, to start as scheduled, making it the last game before the suspension. The game, however, was eventually canceled as the Pelicans packed up and left their locker room.
The shock suspension came amid word of the NCAA basketball tournament announcing it would open without fans. And it came after Lebron James, a three-time champion and de facto face of the NBA, had pivoted from dismissing playing without fans to accepting it as a grave possibility.
The NBA wasn’t the only professional sports league responding in such dramatic fashion, either. There has been a deluge of sports and music cancellations around the world. Perhaps most notably, European soccer leagues have largely continued to play games but without fans, while Italy—site of the most dramatic lockdown outside China—has stopped hosting sports events, period.