The NBA announced Wednesday night it is suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
The league said it is halting operations “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.”
While the league did not name the Jazz player in its news release, a person familiar with the situation confirmed it was Utah center Rudy Gobert. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the situation.
Earlier on Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and team owners conducted a conference call to discuss their next steps amid the growing coronavirus outbreak. The league was leaning toward playing games with essential personnel and no fans, but there was a small group of owners who pushed to suspend operations.
The league was expected to make its decision Thursday. The Gobert news forced the NBA to make an unprecedented move.
The quarantine period for those who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 is 14 days.
Gobert, who was listed as ill for Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City, was not at the arena, but the test result was reported just before tip-off. The game was suspended.
In a statement released Wednesday night, the Jazz confirmed tests in the morning had ruled out flu, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. It reads:
“This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of today, however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19.
“A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game. Subsequently, the decision was correctly made by the NBA to postpone the game. When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office. The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions.
“We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how to best move forward as we gather more information. The individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City. In coordination with the NBA and state officials, we will provide updates at the appropriate time.”
Earlier in the week, Gobert met with reporters and in what he thought was a joke, touched reporters’ microphones and recorders. That happened after the league had sent multiple memos telling players how serious to take coronavirus.
In the past week, the Jazz have played the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors and were on the court pregame with the Thunder on Wednesday.
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