With news from Oklahoma City of the abrupt cancellation of tonight’s Thunder-Jazz game, the NBA has reportedly taken the next logical step and suspended the season for the time being due to the threat of Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The official word comes from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The NBA has suspended the season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 12, 2020
Woj goes on to say in a follow-up tweet that this is being called a “hiatus” by Commissioner Adam Silver and the league office until they can figure out how best to move forward.
UPDATE: It’s official.
As it happens, the apparent COVID-19 patient zero for the NBA turns out to have been Rudy Gobert of the Jazz. What’s more, the situation in OKC now involves a quarantine of the players:
The Jazz and Thunder players are currently quarantined in the OKC arena, league sources tell ESPN. This is following Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 12, 2020
This is all quite disturbing for a million reasons, but since this is a Raptors blog I must mention that the Raps were just in Utah playing the Jazz on Monday. The reprecussions of that for the team, the city, and the country are impossible to calculate at the moment. Here’s hoping the appropriate precautions and tests are already being taken to figure out how everyone is doing right now. That’s really all I can report about the local situation.
As for what the next move for the NBA is right now, it feels scary to even hazard a guess. Playing games in empty arenas offers one solution, as that would at least satisfy the terms of the season and minimize the risk of any viral transmissions. Given that we’re 75 percent of the way there, an outright cancellation, playoffs and all, seems like a wild outcome — but it could be on the table. The league, the player’s association, municipal governments, and beyond all have to consider the best way forward to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
In the long run, it’s absolutely the right call to take whatever steps are necessary. In the short term, though, there will be some uncomfortable times — and tough decisions — ahead.
For more information about COVID-19 and what you can do, check out Canada’s public health website, which is tracking the situation closely.
Update: March 12, 11:00 a.m.
The Utah Jazz have announced that one additional team member has tested positive for coronavirus, and that all other tests came back negative:
The Jazz announce they tested all members of their traveling party in OKC, and turned up one additional positive test. pic.twitter.com/P0O4JrPxVg— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) March 12, 2020
Although the team statement doesn’t say who tested positive, Adrian Wojnarowski reports that it’s Donovan Mitchell. Woj also adds some additional (and somewhat alarming) context:
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has tested positive for the coronavirus, league sources tell ESPN. Jazz players privately say that Rudy Gobert had been careless in the locker room touching other players and their belongings. Now a Jazz teammate has tested positive.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 12, 2020
As we also reported, the Raptors are currently in self-isolation and awaiting results of their own testing.
We’ll update as we hear more.
Update: March 12, 2:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, the NHL has also officially put its season on hiatus:
As per someone on the Board of Governors call with the NHL, the season has officially been paused.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 12, 2020
Major League Baseball is expected to announce a halt to spring training later today as well.
Update: March 12, 2:20 p.m.
The Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur is reporting that the NBA will be on hold for at least a month:
That’s an aspirational timeline, to be clear. It’s a minimum, and it’s almost certainly not in their control.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) March 12, 2020
Update: March 12, 8:25 p.m.
The word from Commissioner Adam Silver is out. Woj has made his report: no NBA for at least 30 days. Tough one to swallow, but absolutely necessary until we all get a handle on the coronavirus and its spread (in America, in particular).
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on TNT that the NBA hiatus will be "at least 30 days."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 13, 2020