The sports world was rocked by the news released Wednesday night that the National Basketball Association has suspended its season “until further notice” over coronavirus fears. The drastic action was announced after a player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus just prior to a game in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
Rudy Gobert, a French national who has played center for the Jazz since 2013 and was an all-star this year, tested positive for coronavirus, causing the cancellation of the Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game on Wednesday night. On Thursday, a second player for the Jazz, all-star guard Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive for the virus.
In an ironic twist, at a press conference on Monday where players were discussing coronavirus, Gobert jokingly touched all the microphones as if mocking the panic associated with the virus. Thus far, the remainder of the Utah team has tested negative for the virus.
The New Orleans Pelicans game against the Sacramento Kings in California was also cancelled as one of the referees scheduled to work that game worked a Utah game on Monday. The last game to be played was the Dallas Maverick’s win over the Denver Nuggets. “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” a statement from the league read. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Earlier yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic, saying that the virus was spreading due to “alarming levels of inaction.”
Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Mavericks commented on the situation following the conclusion of Wednesday night’s game. Cuban said his initial reaction was, “This is crazy. This can’t be true.” He also remarked, “I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of movie than reality.”
Teams have been told they can continue to practice, but players should not entertain visitors from out of town. Players from the teams that the Jazz have played in the last 10 days were recommended to self-quarantine. Those teams include the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, and the Toronto Raptors.
In addition to the NBA suspension of play, the NCAA announced on Wednesday that the upcoming tournaments, known colloquially as “March Madness,” will be played but fans will not be allowed to attend the games. Instead, only the teams, essential staff, and the families of the teams will be allowed to attend. “The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert in a statement. “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”
Major League Baseball owners are meeting today via conference call to discuss moving forward with the season, which is slated to begin two weeks from now. The teams are currently in spring training in Florida and Arizona.
The National Hockey League is still playing as of this writing, but officials are discussing possible plans such as playing to empty stadiums going forward as well.
NBA superstars have taken to Twitter to make their thoughts on the suspension be known. Oddly, many of them are blaming the year 2020 for the situation. Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers: “Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office, work, etc. etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe.”
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors: “2020 ain’t it. Don’t know what to compare this situation to … just gotta buckle up and take care of yourself and those around you. Basketball will be back at some point but right now, protect yourself and stay safe out there.”
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks: “2020 is being very bad year. Stay safe folks.”
Things are happening quickly as the leagues all adjust to this new fear. It’s uncharted territory for professional sports and for the world in general. The mainstream media is spreading panic and the NBA is acting accordingly. Are they being extremely wise in taking this action or just overly cautious?
And does anyone else have an eerie feeling that all of this is somehow being staged? A global crisis? Does that mean only a globalist solution is appropriate?
Photo: João Pedro Menezes / iStock / Getty Images Plus