Suspension of the 2019–20 NBA season

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Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19

On March 11, 2020, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the suspension of the 2019–20 season following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19. Gobert had come down with an illness before a scheduled basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder that day at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. He was not at the arena but instead at the team's hotel, and was later taken to a nearby hospital where he tested positive for the coronavirus. The next day, Gobert's teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for the virus.


The NBA had been tracking the COVID-19 pandemic closely, speaking with public health authorities such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on the matter.[1] The league spoke to the players' union on the prospect of playing games without fans. The league held a conference call on March 11, 2020 between Commissioner Adam Silver and the 30 owners to reach a consensus on the matter.[2] They were envisioning a scenario where games were to be played with essential personnel only and no fans in attendance, following suit with the NCAA.[1]

The NBA's first material measures included limiting locker room access to players, coaches, general managers, and basketball and public relations staff, with the notable exclusion of media. The NBA had told teams they should make plans for the possibility of playing games without fans and with only essential personnel in attendance.[3]

The Golden State Warriors earlier that day said the game the following day between them and the Brooklyn Nets would be played without fans, offering refunds or exchanges, following San Francisco's order prohibiting assemblies larger than 1,000 individuals.[4] The Cleveland Cavaliers were also going to play home games without fans, due to Ohio governor Mike DeWine banning mass gatherings in the state.[5]


The NBA indefinitely suspended the season for at least 30 days immediately following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus prior to the tip-off of the Jazz–Thunder game.[6][7] Players warming up were told to return to their locker rooms. Attendees were told by the public address announcer that the game was postponed "due to unforeseen circumstances."[8] This is the biggest interruption to an NBA season since the 2011 NBA lockout.[8]

The league asked teams who played the Jazz in the past 10 days to undergo 14 days of self-isolation, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.[8] On March 12, 2020, the Philadelphia 76ers were asked to undergo self-isolation as well.[9]

The NBA G League also suspended their season.[10]

In the midst of the CDC recommending that events of 50 or more persons be cancelled for up to eight weeks, the NBA is looking at being suspended until June 2020, with the season ending in August 2020.[11]

Subsequent actions[edit]

On March 12, the NBA delineated a set of policies that was effective through March 16. These included players being required to remain in the market of their team, no group workouts or practices, and team physicians or trainers talking to each player daily.[12] The following day, the league and the National Basketball Players Association set a moratorium period until April 10, with players getting their pay in full on March 15.[13] A memo sent to the NBA teams on March 15 allowed for players to travel out of their market provided they quarantined, did physical distancing, and gave notices of their whereabouts. Teams were encouraged to do health check-ins.[14]

On April 6, Ernie Johnson from the NBA on TNT conducted an interview with Silver over videotelephony, which was posted to the league's Twitter account. In it, Silver stated there would be no decision on a restart of the season made before May 1 at the bare minimum, a date that Silver admitted that a decision may not be made, and it could come much later.[15]

Infected players and personnel[edit]

The following is a list of NBA players and personnel from the 2019–20 season that are known to have been infected:

No. Name Team Announced Role Ref.
1 Rudy Gobert Utah Jazz March 11, 2020 Player [16]
2 Donovan Mitchell March 12, 2020 Player [17]
3 Christian Wood Detroit Pistons March 14, 2020 Player [18]
4 Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets March 17, 2020 Players [19]
5 Undisclosed
8 Undisclosed Denver Nuggets March 19, 2020 Undisclosed [20]
9 Undisclosed Philadelphia 76ers March 19, 2020 Undisclosed
12 Undisclosed Los Angeles Lakers March 19, 2020 Players [21]
14 Marcus Smart Boston Celtics March 19, 2020 Player [22]
15 Maury Hanks Detroit Pistons March 26, 2020 Scout [23]
16 James Dolan New York Knicks March 28, 2020 Owner [24]

On March 12, during a special edition of Inside the NBA, Hall of Fame player and analyst Charles Barkley revealed he was tested for the coronavirus after suffering from an illness after a recent trip to New York, which was rapidly becoming the worst hit locality of the U.S. pandemic. Barkley self-quarantined in Atlanta.[25] Barkley's test was subsequently negative and he completed his isolation period two weeks later.[26]

On March 17, the Brooklyn Nets announced that four of their players had tested positive as well, one of whom was forward Kevin Durant.[19]

On March 19, the Denver Nuggets announced one of their players tested positive three days earlier. On the same day, the Philadelphia 76ers announced three of their staffers also tested positive,[20] and the Los Angeles Lakers announced two players tested positive.[21] Marcus Smart later went on Twitter to announce that his results came back positive after he was tested five days prior.[22]

On March 25, Christian Wood announced he had "fully recovered" from the virus.[27]

On the same day, it was reported that a cameraman who worked the Jazz–Pistons game on March 7 at Little Caesars Arena had been infected by the virus and was placed in a medically induced coma.[28] He miraculously recovered three weeks later.[29]

On March 26, it was announced that Maury Hanks, a Pistons scout, had been hospitalized with the virus.[23] He later survived and was discharged from the hospital.[30]

On March 27, the Utah Department of Health cleared the Jazz of the virus.[31]

On March 27, ESPN NBA analyst Doris Burke revealed she had tested positive for the virus two weeks earlier.[32] Burke had been experiencing symptoms before calling her scheduled game on March 11 in Dallas. She is now symptom-free.[33]

On April 13, Jacqueline Towns, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, died at age 58 of complications of the virus after having previously been placed in a medically induced coma.[34]

On May 22, it was announced that Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing tested positive for the virus.[35]



The suspension drew remarks from several current and former NBA players.[36] Several players pledged to offer assistance to arena workers across the league who are without work due to the league's response to the virus.[37][38][39][40]

Teams and arenas[edit]

The Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons were among the first to announce plans that would pay workers for the days they are missing due to the suspension of the league.[37][41] On March 28, the Pistons announced that they would offer their performance center facility to health officials for use against the virus.[42]

National Hockey League[edit]

On March 12, 2020, the following day after the NBA suspended the season, the NHL suspended their 2019–20 season. In a statement addressing the situation, the NHL included:

The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking any premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for the coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.[43]


The suspension is expected to cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue in national television advertisements and lost ticket sales.[44] With the vast majority of events at arenas cancelled, down-the-line workers are at risk due to lost revenue from unused tickets and effective employment as a result of closed concession stands and surrounding team memorabilia stands and shops, along with surrounding entertainment districts.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Medina, Mark; Zillgitt, Jeff (March 11, 2020). "Coronavirus: NBA moving toward banning fans, but still no decision on how to handle games". USA Today. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Wojnarowski, Adrian; Lowe, Zach (March 9, 2020). "Sources: NBA, owners to plot coronavirus plans". Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Zucker, Joseph (March 9, 2020). "NBA Will Reportedly Limit Locker Room Access Amid Coronavirus Concerns". Bleacher Report. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  4. ^ Friedell, Nick (March 11, 2020). "Warriors to play Nets without fans in arena following San Francisco order". Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  5. ^ Chick, John (March 11, 2020). "Ohio to ban mass gatherings including sporting events". theScore. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  6. ^ Feldman, Dan (March 12, 2020). "Jazz explain coronavirus testing of player (Rudy Gobert)". ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  7. ^ "NBA says virus hiatus will likely last 'at least' a month". Fox News. Associated Press. March 13, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Botkin, Brad; Kaskey-Blomain, Michael (March 11, 2020). "NBA suspends season after Rudy Gobert tests positive for coronavirus; to reevaluate in 30 days". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  9. ^ Linder, Brian (March 12, 2020). "Sixers ask players, staff to self-quarantine after possible coronavirus exposure, reports say". Penn Live. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  10. ^ Maloney, Jack (March 11, 2020). "NBA G League also suspends play indefinitely due to concerns about coronavirus". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  11. ^ Quinn, Sam (March 15, 2020). "Coronavirus: NBA brass viewing mid-June return as best-case scenario amid new CDC recommendations, per report". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  12. ^ Charania, Shams [@ShamsCharania] (March 12, 2020). "The NBA has informed all 30 teams on policies effective immediately and through March 16, including: - All players must remain in market of team - Players remain home as long as possible - NO group workouts, practices - Team physicians/trainers speak to each player once a day" (Tweet). Retrieved March 13, 2020 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Charania, Shams [@ShamsCharania] (March 13, 2020). "NBA and players union's moratorium period is planned to be effective March 12 (yesterday) to April 10, then reassess. Players will be paid in full on next check on March 15." (Tweet). Retrieved March 13, 2020 – via Twitter.
  14. ^ Charania, Shams [@ShamsCharania] (March 15, 2020). "Sources: Players who travel out of team's market during NBA season hiatus must: Provide whereabouts; stay at home, do social distancing. Team permitted to pay for certain travel. Teams also encouraged to establish daily health/basketball check-ins (such as via FaceTime, Skype)." (Tweet). Retrieved March 19, 2020 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ Bontemps, Tim (April 6, 2020). "Commissioner Adam Silver does not expect to make any decisions on NBA season until at least May". Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  16. ^ Maloney, Jack (March 12, 2020). "Coronavirus: Infected Jazz star Rudy Gobert issues apology 'to the people that I have endangered'". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  17. ^ "Donovan Mitchell tests positive for coronavirus". ESPN News Services. March 12, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  18. ^ Smith, Duncan (March 14, 2020). "Detroit Pistons Center Christian Wood Tests Positive For Coronavirus". Forbes. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Kevin Durant among four Nets players to test positive for coronavirus". March 17, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Bontemps, Tim (March 19, 2020). "Members of Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets test positive for virus". Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  21. ^ a b Kaskey-Blomain, Michael (March 19, 2020). "Coronavirus: Lakers announce two players have tested positive for COVID-19". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  22. ^ a b Smart, Marcus [@smart_ms3] (March 19, 2020). "I was tested 5 days ago and the results came back tonight, which were positive. Ive been self quarantined since the test, thank goodness. COVID-19 must be taken w the highest of seriousness. I know it's a #1 priority for our nations health experts, & we must get more testing ASAP" (Tweet). Retrieved March 19, 2020 – via Twitter.
  23. ^ a b Ford, Ryan; Thomas, Chris (March 26, 2020). "Detroit Pistons scout Maury Hanks hospitalized with coronavirus: Here's what we know". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  24. ^ Andrews, Malika (March 28, 2020). "Knicks owner James Dolan tests positive for coronavirus". Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  25. ^ Baer, Jack (March 12, 2020). "Coronavirus: Charles Barkley awaiting COVID-19 test results". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  26. ^ "Charles Barkley says he has tested negative for COVID-19". March 23, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  27. ^ Quinn, Sam (March 25, 2020). "Coronavirus: Pistons' Christian Wood 'fully recovered' from COVID-19, according to agent". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  28. ^ Goodwill, Vincent; Wetzel, Dan (March 25, 2020). "Cameraman who worked Jazz-Pistons game diagnosed with coronavirus, in coma". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  29. ^ Petzold, Evan (April 15, 2020). "Cameraman who worked Detroit Pistons-Utah Jazz game beats coronavirus". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  30. ^ Gauruder, Dana (April 7, 2020). "Detroit Pistons' Maury Hanks shares his story of surviving coronavirus". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  31. ^ Falk, Aaron (March 27, 2020). "Utah Jazz players, staff cleared by health department after 14 days of COVID-19 quarantine and isolation". Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  32. ^ Chiari, Mike (March 27, 2020). "ESPN NBA Analyst Doris Burke Says She's Tested Positive for COVID-19". Bleacher Report. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  33. ^ "ESPN's Doris Burke now symptom free after positive COVID-19 test". ABC News. news services. March 27, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  34. ^ "Mom of T-Wolves Star Karl-Anthony Towns Dies From COVID-19". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 13, 2020. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  35. ^ Borzello, Jeff (May 22, 2020). "Knicks legend, Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing tests positive for the coronavirus". Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  36. ^ "NBA players react to league suspending season due to coronavirus". March 12, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  37. ^ a b McMenamin, Dave (March 13, 2020). "Kevin Love kicks off support drive for arena workers with $100K pledge". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  38. ^ Schwartz, Nick (March 13, 2020). "Zion Williamson will pay the salaries of New Orleans arena workers for one month". For the Win. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  39. ^ Andrews, Malika; Lopez, Andrew (March 13, 2020). "Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson among stars aiding arena workers". Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  40. ^ Zillgitt, Jeff (March 14, 2020). "Utah's Rudy Gobert, first NBA player with positive coronavirus test, pledges more than $500,000 for arena employees, others". USA Today. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  41. ^ Gauruder, Dana (March 12, 2020). "All Detroit Pistons employees, including LCA operations, to be paid during NBA's hiatus". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  42. ^ "DETROIT PISTONS OFFER UP NEW FACILITY FOR COVID-19 ... Testing, Patients, Etc". TMZ Sports. March 28, 2020. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  43. ^ "NHL statement on coronavirus". March 12, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  44. ^ Barrabi, Thomas (March 13, 2020). "What coronavirus will cost NCAA, NBA and other US sports leagues". Fox Business. Retrieved March 13, 2020.

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