Suspension of the 2019–20 NBA season
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. The Cleveland Cavaliers were also going to play home games without fans, due to Ohio governor Mike DeWine banning mass gatherings in the state.
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. 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." This is the biggest interruption to an NBA season since the 2011 NBA lockout.
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. On March 12, 2020, the Philadelphia 76ers were asked to undergo self-isolation as well.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
Infected players and personnel
The following is a list of NBA players and personnel from the 2019–20 season that are known to have been infected:
|1||Rudy Gobert||Utah Jazz||March 11, 2020||Player|||
|2||Donovan Mitchell||March 12, 2020||Player|||
|3||Christian Wood||Detroit Pistons||March 14, 2020||Player|||
|4||Kevin Durant||Brooklyn Nets||March 17, 2020||Players|||
|8||Undisclosed||Denver Nuggets||March 19, 2020||Undisclosed|||
|9||Undisclosed||Philadelphia 76ers||March 19, 2020||Undisclosed|
|12||Undisclosed||Los Angeles Lakers||March 19, 2020||Players|||
|14||Marcus Smart||Boston Celtics||March 19, 2020||Player|||
|15||Maury Hanks||Detroit Pistons||March 26, 2020||Scout|||
|16||James Dolan||New York Knicks||March 28, 2020||Owner|||
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. Barkley's test was subsequently negative and he completed his isolation period two weeks later.
On March 17, the Brooklyn Nets announced that four of their players had tested positive as well, one of whom was forward Kevin Durant.
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, and the Los Angeles Lakers announced two players tested positive. Marcus Smart later went on Twitter to announce that his results came back positive after he was tested five days prior.
On March 25, Christian Wood announced he had "fully recovered" from the virus.
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. He miraculously recovered three weeks later.
On March 27, ESPN NBA analyst Doris Burke revealed she had tested positive for the virus two weeks earlier. Burke had been experiencing symptoms before calling her scheduled game on March 11 in Dallas. She is now symptom-free.
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.
The suspension drew remarks from several current and former NBA players. 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.
Teams and arenas
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. On March 28, the Pistons announced that they would offer their performance center facility to health officials for use against the virus.
National Hockey League
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.
The suspension is expected to cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue in national television advertisements and lost ticket sales. 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.
- Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sports
- 2011 NBA lockout - last interruption of an NBA season
- 1998–99 NBA lockout - previous interruption of an NBA season, before the 2011-12 season
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