The NBA took an unprecedented step on Wednesday night of suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Prior to the start of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, players and officials abruptly walked off the court, leaving stunned fans to wonder what was happening.
Developing Story: OKC Thunder/Utah Jazz players walk out of arena before the game begins. Illnesses before the game caused a delay. They’re waiting on the NBA to issue further instruction.
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) March 12, 2020
Thunder and Jazz players were sent back to the locker room as officials wait for confirmation from the NBA to start the game. pic.twitter.com/xW9sC7OKN7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2020
Eventually, fans were told that the game was being postponed. “Fans, due to unforeseen circumstances, the game tonight has been postponed,” said the announcer, who appeared to be reading from a statement and seemed as surprised as the fans. “You are all safe. Take your time in leaving the arena tonight and do so in an orderly fashion. Thank you for coming out tonight. We are all safe and you can visit okcthunder.com for updates on upcoming games. Please drive home safely.”
Fans were understandably upset and could be heard jeering and booing as the announcement was made.
Jazz vs. Thunder game postponed announcement: pic.twitter.com/c0k9jHmDXh
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 12, 2020
Prior to the game, it was announced that Jazz player Rudy Gobert would be out due to an illness. It is now being reported that Gobert has tested positive COVID-19. The NBA said in a statement that the entire NBA season is being “suspended until further notice” as they evaluate what the next steps should be.
“This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection,” the Jazz said in a statement. “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.”
The team received a “preliminary” positive coronavirus result right before tip-off for tonight’s game.
“When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office,” the Jazz organization said. “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.”
The team said it is working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah officials, and the NBA to determine how best to move forward. “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 infected player was not in the arena for Wednesday night’s game, but that may be small comfort to fans who were in attendance. Little is known at this time about how the virus spreads and how long it can live on surfaces, so don’t be surprised to see fans who were at the game running en masse to get tested for the virus.
As all of this was unfolding in Oklahoma City, President Trump, in a speech from the Oval Office, announced that he was banning travel from Europe to the U.S. to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“The virus will not have a chance against us,” Trump said. “No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.”
Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands.