BREAKING: NBA Season Suspended
March 11, 2020
UPDATE (12:13 PM, 3/12/20): Mark Cuban has stated he believes the season won’t be cancelled, and will only be postponed. He “could see NBA games going as late as August this year,” according to Rachel Nichols. The NBA has released a statement to all teams that the NBA’s hiatus will last for at least one month.
UPDATE (10:06 AM, 3/12/20): Donovan Mitchell, also of the Utah Jazz, is the second player to have received a positive test result for COVID-19. No other Jazz or Thunder players have tested positive at this time. Players from the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors – all teams who played the Jazz within the last 10 days – have been instructed to self-quarantine themselves.
UPDATE (8:00 PM, 3/11/20): According to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA has informed teams that they can continue to host practices. Players have been advised not to have visitors from out of town.
UPDATE (7:43 PM, 3/11/20): Players react to the stunning news of the NBA’s suspension.
UPDATE (7:24 PM, 3/11/20): The Utah Jazz have released a statement regarding the diagnosis. The Jazz state that this morning “a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat, and an upper respiratory infection,” but that a later test for COVID-19 prior to the tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game came back positive.
The Jazz state they 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 2019-2020 NBA season has been suspended indefinitely after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The NBA had already undergone measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the virus that’s quickly spread across the globe and caused fears of a global pandemic. Notably, teams were instructed to prepare to play games without fans in attendance, and with only essential personnel – coaches and trainers, for instance – gaining locker room access. The NCAA had announced that all March Madness games would be played without fans; the Golden State Warriors were the first NBA team to announce they’d be closing down fan access to Chase Center for home games starting Thursday.
However, just moments after Gobert was announced to have tested positive for the virus, those plans have become moot as the NBA announces its plans to go on a “hiatus.”
Gobert and the Jazz were preparing to play a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight, but the game was postponed after the news broke. The Jazz and Thunder are currently quarantined in Oklahoma City.
The news of the virus’s spread to the NBA is especially concerning considering the nature of the sport. Players are in continual contact – locker rooms afford little distance between team members, and high fives between players and jersey exchanges are commonplace during and after games. While it’s important to note that the virus is mainly transmitted through the air by respiratory droplets from the coughs and sneezes of infected patients, and not through sweat, the likelihood that Gobert’s diagnosis will be an isolated one is slim.
Next steps for the NBA remain unclear. Normally, NBA playoffs begin in early to mid-April. While the NBA has yet to confirm any future plans, fan speculation has run rampant; many fans, at this point, anticipate that the NBA season will simply end today, and the 2020-2021 season will begin in October as usual. If this is the case, there will be no NBA Champion for the 2019-2020 season.
Chris Mannix, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, said “there is not a lot of optimism this NBA season will resume” during an interview with NBC Sports Boston.
This story is breaking, and will be updated as more information becomes available.