The 2019-20 NBA season is suspended until further notice after a Utah Jazz player – reportedly center Rudy Gobert – tested positive for the coronavirus.
News of the player’s condition broke Wednesday night (March 12) shortly before the scheduled tip-off of a Jazz-Thunder game in Oklahoma City, resulting in the game to be canceled. League officials confirmed that the infected player was not present in the arena at the time.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league wrote in an official statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
In a statement from the Utah Jazz, the team notes that the affected player’s symptoms had diminished in the course of a day, but they remain in the care of Oklahoma City health professionals.
“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 the league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions,” the Jazz said. “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.”
Major U.S. sporting events and leagues are scrambling to adjust their schedules in the wake of the global pandemic. California’s BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament was the first major sporting event in the country to be called off after multiple coronavirus cases were confirmed in the region. Since then, the Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s basketball conference tournaments due to health and safety concerns and the NCAA deemed March Madness games are to be played with no fans but rather essential personnel and families in attendance only.
Prior to the NBA’s suspension, the Golden State Warriors intended to play their March 13 home battle against the Nets in an empty arena in accordance with a ban of public gatherings of more than 1,000 people in San Francisco. The San Francisco Giants also canceled their upcoming exhibition game at Oracle Park due to the city-wide ban.
Similarly, the state of Washington has banned events of large size as well, leading the Seattle Mariners to move their scheduled slate of March home games in an effort to keep MLB operations going while keeping the public safe.