The NBA abruptly suspended its season on Wednesday after a Utah Jazz player was found to have tested positive for coronavirus moments before a game began in Oklahoma City.
The league announced that the suspension would begin on Thursday, but the final game of Wednesday’s slate, between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, was canceled soon after the announcement.
It was a surreal day for the N.B.A. — starting with the news that one team, the Golden State Warriors, was barring fans from home games, and ending with the season in peril for the entire league.
“The N.B.A. will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league said in its statement Wednesday night.
The Jazz were seconds from tipping off against the Thunder at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night when the game was delayed for about 30 minutes, then called off. It was not immediately clear what was happening; in a bizarre scene, a member of the Thunder’s medical staff sprinted onto the court and spoke to the referees. Players from both teams then left for their locker rooms.
In a statement, the Jazz said that an unidentified player had been tested for the coronavirus after tests for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection came back negative.
“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,” the Jazz said in the statement, using the term for the disease caused by the virus.
Although the team did not name the infected player, a person familiar with the situation identified him as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
Gobert had recently made light of fears about the coronavirus outbreak when he spoke to reporters.
As the news of the season’s suspension broke, Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was shown on ESPN appearing shocked during a game between the Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets.