NBA Suspends Season After Utah Jazz Player Tested Positive for Coronavirus
By Liz Calvario
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The 2019-2020 NBA season is going on hiatus.
The National Basketball Association announced on Wednesday that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19, and they decided to suspend the rest of the season.
"The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena," the statement reads. "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."
Most of Wednesday's games, including New Orleans Pelicans', were postponed.
On Thursday, the NBA released a new statement, explaining, "This hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned."
"As we develop the appropriate course for future NBA games and events, we will keep you informed of any changes as soon as they happen," the statement continued, in part. "Tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled. If games are not played or played in an empty arena, teams will work with fans on a credit for a future game or refund."
The Utah Jazz also released a statement on the matter on Wednesday evening: "This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of 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 the game," the statement continues. "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," the statement concludes.
Rudy Gobert, the 27-year-old NBA star who preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus, apologized to the league and his Utah Jazz teammates for being "careless." The basketball player issued the apology via Instagram on Thursday. In a clip that has since gone viral, Gobert can be seen touching every microphone and recorder during a press conference. It was revealed hours later that his teammate, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive.
"I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment," Gobert wrote. "The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse."
"This is crazy, this can't be true," Cuban told ESPN when asked what his first thought was upon hearing the news. "It's not within the realm of possibilities. It just seemed like more out of a movie than reality…Our plan, here, was to defer to the NBA."
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love announced on March 12 that he would be donating $100,000 to support the team's arena and support the staff during the suspension.
"Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. And the fear and anxiety resulting from the recent outbreak of COVID-19 can be extremely overwhelming," he wrote on Instagram. "Through the game of basketball, we've been able to address major issues and stand together as a progressive league that cares about the players, the fans, and the communities where we work. I'm concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I'm committing $100,000 through the @KevinLoveFund in support of the @Cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season. I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities."