AP Was There: NBA suspends season due to coronavirus pandemic

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MIAMI (AP) – (2010s)

The NBA is suspending the season “until further notice” after Utah Jazz’ Rudy Goebert tested positive for coronavirus. The move comes hours after the majority of league owners leaned into playing games without fans in arenas. The shutdown should last a few weeks. But the NBA won’t resume play until the end of July with a scaled-down version involving 22 teams inside a bubble created at the Disney World resort in Florida. The Associated Press is republishing verbatim the story of the NBA suspending the season on March 12, 2020.

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By TIM REYNOLDS

By AP Basketball Writer

MIAMI — The NBA suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, a decision that came just hours after the majority of owners of the league have leaned to play games without fans in the arenas.

From now on, there will be no more games at all, at least for now. A person with knowledge of the situation said the Jazz player who tested positive was center Rudy Gobert. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the team has confirmed the test.

“The NBA is suspending play following the end of tonight’s game schedule until further notice,” the league said in a statement sent shortly after 9:30 p.m. EDT. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps moving forward with respect to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The test result, the NBA said, was reported shortly before the scheduled time for Utah’s game at Oklahoma City on Wednesday night was canceled. The players were on the floor for warm-ups and the whistleblowing was moments away when they were told to return to their locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were informed that the game had been postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances”.

These circumstances were the league’s worst case scenario at the moment – one player testing positive. A second person who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity said the league expects the shutdown to last at least two weeks, but cautioned the timeline is very fluid.

“It’s a very serious time right now,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think the league acted appropriately and cautiously and we’ll all just have to monitor the situation and see where it goes from here.”

The Jazz released a statement saying a player — they didn’t identify Gobert — tested negative earlier Wednesday for the flu, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. This player’s symptoms subsided as the day progressed, but the decision was still made to test for COVID-19. This test came back with a preliminary positive result.

“The individual is currently in the custody of health officials in Oklahoma City,” the Jazz said, adding that updates would come as needed.

For most people, the coronavirus only causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older people and people with existing health conditions, it can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people are recovering from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, which declared a pandemic on Wednesday, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness can take three to six weeks to recover. . In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

It has been a worldwide problem for several weeks. And now it’s hit the NBA.

“This is crazy,” Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson said on Twitter.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he was stunned when the news broke, adding “it’s a lot more important than basketball.”

“This is a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake,” Cuban said. “I’m much more worried about my kids, and my mum is 82, and talking to him and telling him to stay home, than I am when we play our next game.”

Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego, speaking ahead of his team’s game in Miami, said “it’s a scary time”.

Times are changing rapidly, too. Around 7 p.m., a person with knowledge of the situation told AP that the owners — who met by teleconference on Wednesday — were broadly supportive of a plan to play games in empty arenas in the short term.

About an hour later, the Thunder-Jazz game was interrupted before the denunciation. And about 90 minutes later the season was called off, as of the last whistle on Wednesday night.

It came even sooner than expected: The last game of the evening’s six-game slate, New Orleans at Sacramento, was also canceled because one of the referees assigned to work on that Pelicans-Kings game, Courtney Kirkland, worked on a Utah game. Monday.

“The game has been canceled out of an abundance of caution,” the NBA said.

There are 259 games, or around 21% of the schedule, left to play this season – and no one knows if, or when, things will resume.

“We believe in league leadership,” Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand said.

The shutdown is the latest major development in a season filled with incredibly tough challenges. The league lost up to $400 million in revenue after a rift with China began in October when Houston general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. Former NBA commissioner David Stern died in January, the same month that future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.

And now a pandemic – which could also cost the league hundreds of millions in lost revenue, depending on how long it lasts. Cuban said he expects his team to stay in Dallas, rehab and work, and be ready to come back whenever the league reopens.

“As we have said from the start, the health and safety of our fans, employees, players and partners is our top priority and we therefore fully support the NBA’s decision to postpone games,” the CEO said. ‘Orlando Magic, Alex Martins. “We will continue to stay in touch with the league and local, state and federal health experts as we closely monitor this public health crisis.”

If the regular season ends here, it would be the end of 22-year-old Atlanta guard Vince Carter’s playing career. And just in case that was it, the Hawks put Carter with 19.5 seconds left in overtime in what was already clearly going to be a loss to New York.

Carter took an open 3-pointer and did it – the Knicks, aware of the moment, didn’t defend it either – and then celebrated with his Hawks teammates after what could be the last shot of his career.

“A weird but cool memory,” Carter said.

Also closed: the G League, the NBA’s minor league where teams still have between six and nine games on their 50-game schedule.

The NBA’s move to empty arenas in the short term came the same day the NCAA announced that the men’s and women’s Division I tournaments would be played with no fans – except a few family members – allowed to watch. inside.

“People are clearly taking the steps they feel they need to take for their safety,” said Heat guard Duncan Robinson, who played in Division I and Division III national championship games during his college years at Michigan and Michigan. Williams.

Robinson added, “but at the same time, the NBA needs to protect its players in the league and the fans.”

Things had been trending toward games in empty arenas for some time, and it was abundantly clear Wednesday morning when the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told a congressional committee that he would recommend to the NBA not allowing fans to games in response to the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci was responding to a question posed by Rep. Glenn Grothman, a Republican from Wisconsin, “Is the NBA underreacting or is the Ivy League overreacting?” Grothman was referring to how the Ivy League recently canceled its basketball tournaments, instead of having them without fans or maintaining the status quo.

“We recommend that there are no large crowds,” Fauci said. “If that means there’s no one in the audience when the NBA is playing, so be it. But as a public health official, anything with crowds is something that would give a risk. of spread.”

It was at the time when we were worried about the crowds and the confinement.

By the close of business on Wednesday in the NBA, the concern was so much greater.

“It’s surreal,” Borrego said. “It’s reality for us now. It’s not just on TV somewhere anymore. It’s now home.

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