The NBA suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus.
“The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of [Wednesday’s] schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The player is Rudy Gobert of the Jazz, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That led to Utah’s game at Oklahoma City being postponed just before tipoff.
The NBA is expected to address next steps with teams when it conducts a call with the board of governors sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Also Wednesday, the NBA G League announced in a statement that it has “suspended the 2019-20 season, effective after tonight’s games.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said during ESPN’s broadcast of Dallas’ 113-97 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets that he was shocked by the news that the season was being suspended.
He said his initial reaction was, “This is crazy. This can’t be true.”
He continued: “I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”
Cuban then added that he isn’t an expert and defers to NBA commissioner Adam Silver on these matters.
“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.”
After the game, Cuban said teams have been told they can continue to practice, and he added that players have been told they should not have visitors from out of town.
The last game to be completed Wednesday was Dallas’ win over Denver, as the New Orleans Pelicans’ game at the Sacramento Kings was postponed because one of the referees scheduled to work that game worked Utah’s game on Monday.
“The game was canceled out of an abundance of caution,” the NBA said.
A source told ESPN’s Royce Young that Gobert was never at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, but he was in Oklahoma City and was set to play if he tested negative for the coronavirus.
Players were on the floor for warm-ups when they were told to return to the locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told by the public-address announcer that the game was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
The Thunder players were cleared to leave the arena, but Utah’s players are still there, and sources told Wojnarowski that the team would need to coordinate with Oklahoma and Salt Lake City public health organizations before it could return to Utah.
Players from teams the Jazz have played within the past 10 days were told to self-quarantine, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Those teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.
“I’m sure I probably had contact with [Gobert]. But at the same time, like I said, [I’m] just taking precautions,” Detroit’s Langston Galloway said. “We’ve been washing our hands, and when the reports started coming out, everybody’s kinda been on their hand sanitizer, washing their hands, just staying focused on that moment of, hey, [we have] interaction with a lot of different people and knowing that at the end of the day, you might’ve touched the ball, you might’ve interacted with a fan, and just being [cautious] with that going forward.”
Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego, speaking before his team played Wednesday at Miami — where news of the shutdown broke during the fourth quarter — said, “These are scary times.”
There are 259 games, roughly 21% of the schedule, left to play this season — and no one knows if, or when, things will resume.
“We believe in the leadership of the league,” Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand said.