Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz has reportedly tested positive for the novel coronavirus and the NBA season is over.
Panic ensued earlier this evening as the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz was canceled right before tip-off. There were reports of medical staff sprinting out onto the court just before the game started, officials conferred, teams were sent back to the locker room and an announcement was made that the game was canceled.
The obvious scenario was that Rudy Gobert, who had been listed on the injury report as being out for “illness” had tested positive. Shams Charania of The Athletic later confirmed that had indeed tested positive and that was the reason the game was called off.
The NBA later released a press release saying the season had been suspended as they looked at next steps to deal with the growing pandemic.
Frankly, the league’s handling of the entire situation looks like a disaster. It’s unclear when Gobert would have been exposed to the disease. Gobert made a point of touching several reporters microphones after shootaround this week, in a terrible attempt at a joke. It’s possible that he exposed himself in this moment but it’s at least as likely that he had already been exposed and simply exposed the reporters who then had to collect these microphones and recorders. Gobert also played 31 minutes that night against the Raptors.
Test results for coronavirus can take two or three days which means Gobert was presumably tested sometime around Monday but was still allowed to play Monday night, interact with his teammates and that those teammates who could have been assumed to be exposed were allowed to enter the arena in Oklahoma City and prepare for the game, potentially exposing thousands more people, including fans, arena employees, team staff and other players.
In addition, while announcing that the season would be suspended, the league intended to allow tonight’s games to be played as scheduled. This was a significant problem for the late game between the Kings and Pelicans because one of the officials scheduled to work the game had also worked Monday’s game between the Jazz and the Raptors. The fact that calling off that game as well only came after the Pelicans essentially refused to take the floor doesn’t reflect well on the league.
To date, more than 115,000 cases (and 4,200 deaths) have been confirmed in more than 110 countries worldwide, including the United States, which has seen more than 1,000 affected Americans and 31 deaths. The World Health Organization officially declared it a pandemic on March 9 and countries have implemented curfews, travel bans and mandatory quarantines to help prevent its spread.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.