The league is suspending games for a minimum of two weeks.
Following the confirmation of a Utah Jazz player testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, the NBA announced that they would suspend all league games. [Featured image courtesy of NBA.com]
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league announced in a statement last night.
Previously, the Golden State Warriors announced that they would play home games without fans. Additionally, the league implemented new measures regarding the spacing of players in the locker room, as well media guidelines that insured ample distance between the reporters and players.
The final decision to suspend the season followed the report that a Jazz player had contracted the coronavirus. While neither the team nor the player has confirmed the player’s identity, sources are saying that the infected player is all-star center, Rudy Gobert. Just two days ago, Gobert made a joke about the virus, touching all the reporters’ microphones during a press conference.
The revelation of the player’s test result came just before the start of last night’s game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the affected player wasn’t present in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the game was cancelled before tip-off. The players warming up on the court returned to their locker rooms and, shortly thereafter, the fans were informed that the game was postponed and were asked to leave the arena.
At this moment, the timeframe of the suspension is fluid but sources are expecting the shutdown to last at least two weeks. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league stated.
Its announcement coincided with other breaking headlines regarding the virus. Yesterday, the White House announced a travel ban on flights between Europe and the USA, while Hollywood actor, Tom Hanks revealed that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, both tested positive for the virus.
The NBA is the first major American sports league to suspend its season games due to the virus. Later today, the NHL is expected to make a statement regarding its plans for the rest of the season (scheduled to run through April 4).