The NBA announced the season’s suspension after the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz game was stopped prior to tipoff and Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The irony is that during a post-game interview, Gobert was seen touching microphones and poking fun at the virus.
On Thursday, March 12, Gobert apologized publicly on Instagram.
“I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment,” Gobert posted. “The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse.”
Jazz rising star Donavan Mitchell also tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Gobert was reportedly “careless” in the locker room as he touched teammates and their belongings, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Mitchell was the only other team member to test positive thus far. However, Detroit Pistons forward Christian Woods, who was defending Gobert just a week prior, tested positive for the virus.
The Thunder players were not tested and were free to leave the building after the game was postponed, but the Jazz members were required to self-quarantine in the Chesapeake Energy
Arena until the whole team was tested. The league told teams that have played the Utah Jazz within the last 10 days to self-quarantine. These include teams such as the Boston Celtics, the
New York Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors.
In response to the season suspension, Gobert donated $500,000 to support workers at Utah's arena as well as broader coronavirus relief efforts here and abroad. Gobert is one of many players who have pledged support for staff affected by sporting events shutting down.
The NBA is taking precautions with this outbreak by suspending the entire league until further notice. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offered a minimum 30-day hiatus for the league. The NBA predicts that the suspension will last into June as the U.S. continues to deal with the increasing number of coronavirus cases. Fans are hoping for results quickly, as playoffs were scheduled to begin on April 18.
The MLB, PGA and other leagues around the world are being postponed and are undergoing the same precautions. In America, multiple states are under a state of emergency and some public health officials are advising that COVID-19 hotspots be closed to the public. Both Gobert and Mitchell released videos to the public updating the situation.
“I wish I would have taken this more seriously and I hope everyone is going to do so,” Gobert said.
The Utah fans have shown lots of support for their two star players by reposting on social
media wishing them well. Mitchell stated he’s ready to “lace-up” and get back to the game.
“I just can't wait to get back on the court and play for the best fans in the world.”
By Javier Sarache Jr.