The National Basketball Association (NBA) became the first professional sports league in the United States to shut down operations due to the coronavirus. The announcement came on Wednesday night, and the suspension was to begin at the conclusion of games on that night. The NBA G League also announced that they would be suspending the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season until further notice.
The announcement came after the NBA learned that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The confirmed positive test was reported just before tip-off of a game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, prompting that game to be canceled immediately.
Players of both teams left the court after being directed by league officials, and an announcement was made to the fans inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Gobert was not at the arena at the time of the confirmed test.
Word quickly spread throughout the NBA, and it became clear that the NBA had to do something immediately. Suspending the season was the only real move that they could make, but it was still shocking to owners and other league personnel.
The New Orleans Pelicans were supposed to play the Sacramento Kings to wrap up the night’s action on Wednesday, but that game was eventually postponed. Several Pelicans players refused to play because one of the officials worked a game with the Utah Jazz earlier in the week.
Back in Oklahoma City, members of both the Jazz and Thunder had to wait for several hours in the locker room to receive a test for Covid-19. Players from the Thunder received fever tests on their cheek but were not tested for the virus.
State health officials performed the fever tests, and instructed the players to self-quarantine and report any symptoms within 24 hours.
Things were a bit different in the Utah Jazz locker room where all players and team personnel waited to be tested for the virus. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were on hand to swab each player’s cheek in search of Covid-19.
It took more than five hours for all players and other team staff and personnel to be tested before players were allowed to return to their hotel.
The news came down on Thursday morning that Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive for the coronavirus. The Jazz did not announce that Mitchell had contracted the disease, but they did confirm that a second player had tested positive.
With the news of a second positive test, the NBA has asked anyone that the Jazz played in the last 10 days to self-isolate and report if they start to feel any symptoms.
This includes the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, and Toronto Raptors. Members of the Raptors team and traveling staff have been tested, but the results are not yet in.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was expected to meet with team owners and the Board of Governors on Thursday, with another announcement expected after that meeting.
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