The NBA announced Wednesday that the 2019-20 season has been suspended indefinitely after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
The announcement came hours after NBA owners held a conference call to discuss the league’s coronavirus response plans that failed to produce a resolution, and shortly after a game between the Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was abruptly postponed shortly before tip-off.
“A player on the Utah Jazz has preliminary tested positive for COVID-19,” the NBA’s statement read. “The test result was reportedly shortly prior to tip-of of [Wednesday’s] game. At that time, [Wednesday’s] game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena. The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of [Wednesday’s] schedule until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Gobert was the Jazz player who tested positive for coronavirus, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. The Athletic first reported Gobert’s positive test. Gobert, who was initially listed as “questionable” with an undetermined illness, was ruled out before Wednesday’s game and was not on the court during warm-ups.
Members of both the Thunder and Jazz went through warmups and starting lineup introductions at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City before the three game officials huddled shortly before tip-off. After a brief conversation, the officials sent both teams back to their locker rooms. During the delay, which lasted approximately 35 minutes, the Thunder proceeded with their halftime entertainment. Finally, the Thunder’s public address announcer informed fans that the game would be postponed.
“Fans, due to unforeseen circumstances, the game tonight has been postponed,” the public address announcer said. “You’re all safe. Take your time in leaving the arena tonight and do so in an orderly fashion. Thank you for coming out tonight. We’re all safe. . . . Please drive home safely. Goodnight fans.”
Thousands of fans who remained in attendance slowly filed out, with some boos heard on the television broadcast.
The chaotic scene unfolded shortly after NBA owners failed to reach agreement on an immediate plan for handling the coronavirus. While the league’s owners had weighed holding games without fans in attendance and postponing games, they initially decided to continue talks on Thursday.
The Washington Wizards, who played against the Jazz on Feb. 28 and announced they would continue to welcome fans to games at Capital One Arena, are in the process of seeking more information concerning the Jazz’s postponed game and the coronavirus. A Wizards official pledged that the organization “will take every precaution with their players.”