As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic surges around the world, many institutions have seen their regular operations cease. On Wednesday, the NBA suspended its season. Minutes before the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder were set to tip off Wednesday night, doctors rushed the courts to spread information to team officials.
Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19.
Players and fans waited perplexed at the delay until minutes later, both teams and their staff members were sent back to the locker room and the PA announced to the fans in attendance that the game had been postponed. The Thunder crowd began to boo as fans were escorted out of the game. Hours later, the NBA sent out the announcement many had suspected was coming:
“The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. 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 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.”
All Jazz team personnel were immediately tested and instructed to stay in Chesapeake Energy Arena overnight. Five other teams who recently played the Jazz also had their members instructed to self quarantine.
Following the NBA’s announcement, the MLB, NHL, MLS and NCAA have followed suit, suspending their seasons or cancelling tournaments and upcoming play.
As word of the NBA suspension spread across the country to various games, it reached Dallas where the Mavericks were playing the Nuggets. Quickly, ESPN reporters made their way to Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban for comment on the NBA’s decision. Cuban expressed his support:
“I trust Adam [Silver]. You know what? It’s really not about basketball or money,” Cuban said. “Literally, if this thing is exploding to the point where all of a sudden players and others have had it, you think about your family. You want to make sure you’re doing this the right way. Now it’s much more personal, and you’ve seen what’s happened in other countries, but just the whole idea that it’s come this close and potentially a couple players have it, just, ‘stunning’ isn’t the right word. Just crazy.”
Cuban expressed a sentiment that many across the world feel as they see institutions close and the familiarity of everyday life slip away. This is bigger than basketball, this is about the well-being of the country and more broadly the world.
As the pandemic continues to spread and interrupt the regularities of our daily lives, it is important to try to ‘flatten the curve’ of its peak. If we do not take the proper precautions and the spread and peak of infection is too great, the United States healthcare system will be overloaded and as a result, we could see a great number of extra, relatively preventable deaths. It is important in this time to wash your hands frequently, avoid large gatherings and to not touch your face. This is so much bigger than basketball.