Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert thought coronavirus precautions were funny a few days ago. Monday, at the end of a pre-game press conference, Gobert made a point to put his hand on every microphone and recorder in front of him before leaving the room.
Wednesday night, the entire NBA season was suspended indefinitely — because Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus.
The Jazz were ready to play in Oklahoma City against the Thunder on Wednesday night, but just before tip-off, officials convened and the players were escorted back to the locker room.
After a delay, during which event organizers moved the halftime show pre-game in order to stall, the PA announcer told everyone the game had been postponed, and assured everyone in the arena that they were safe — but didn't tell them what was going on.
Within the hour, it had been reported that a player tested positive for coronavirus. Players for both teams were quarantined in their locker rooms. Then, the NBA announced that it was suspending the season until further notice.
"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday's schedule of games until further notice," a statement from the league read. "The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."
As coronavirus spreads in the United States, instances of people being visibly sick in public have the potential to cause significant fear or panic. University of Nebraska men's basketball head coach Fred Hoiberg looked terrible on the sideline on the same night the NBA shut down over coronavirus.
Hoiberg, however, tested negative for coronavirus and was diagnosed with the flu. But the uncertainty over coronavirus and its similarities to a cold or flu will likely lead to more instances like this — and could move more sports leagues to cancel games altogether.
The NCAA has already limited attendance at upcoming tournament games to players, staff, and some family members.