The NBA has suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus, a move that came only hours after the majority of the league’s owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.
Now there will be no games at all, at least for the time being. A person with knowledge of the situation said the Jazz player who tested positive was center Rudy Gobert.
The test result, the NBA said, was reported shortly before the scheduled tip-off time for the Utah at Oklahoma City game on Wednesday night was called off. Players were on the floor for warmups and tip-off was moments away when they were told to return to their locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told the game was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Those circumstances were the league’s worst-case scenario for now — a player testing positive. A second person who spoke to AP said the league expects the shutdown to last a minimum of two weeks, but cautioned that the timeframe is very fluid.
The shutdown is the latest major development in a season filled with unspeakably hard challenges. The league lost as much as $400 million in revenue after a rift with China was started in October when Houston general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern died in January, the same month that soon-to-be 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.