NBA Suspends Season After Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert Tests Positive for COVID-19

Rudy Gobert shoots a free throw.
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz shoots a free throw against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Jan. 16 in New Orleans. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz was in Oklahoma City for a game against the Thunder when, immediately before tip-off, both teams were escorted to their locker rooms. The PA announcer informed fans that the game was cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances” but that everyone in attendance was “safe.” A short while later, the Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted that Utah center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Not long after that, the NBA announced it was suspending all games.

On Monday, Gobert, in addressing the league’s new policies regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, jokingly made a show of touching all the microphones arrayed before him.

Two days before that, on March 7, LeBron James had brushed off the idea that NBA teams might play without fans in the stands.

James later backtracked on those comments, and the Golden State Warriors were set to host the Brooklyn Nets in an empty arena on Thursday night. Earlier on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that more teams were prepared to postpone games or play them in empty arenas. Wojnarowski said just one organization, the Knicks, wanted to maintain the fans-in-the-arena status quo.

Since last week, Gobert’s Utah Jazz has played away games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Detroit Pistons as well as a home game against the Toronto Raptors. Gobert featured in each of those contests.

Reports indicate Gobert felt healthy enough to play on Wednesday, though ESPN’s Royce Young reported that the All-Star center never went to Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Before players were escorted to the locker rooms, Chris Paul had approached the Utah bench to ask about Gobert’s absence and was shooed away.

Players for both the Jazz and Thunder were quarantined inside their locker rooms after the game was postponed. The fans were allowed to leave, and stadium staff were seen cleaning Utah’s bench.

As of Wednesday, reports indicate that the NBA is suspended for an “indefinite” length of time. How long will the league be on hiatus? No one knows, though it seems impossible that it could resume at any point in the next two weeks. A player for the Italian soccer club Juventus has tested positive for the coronavirus, and the entire team (which includes Cristiano Ronaldo) is now being quarantined for 14 days.