As of yesterday, the inevitable has already happened. Their first NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus, and following this, the NBA has announced that this basketball season is suspended until further notice.
On Monday came the NBA’s first major announcement: that they would be limiting locker room access to only essential team personnel (such as coaches, executives, and select other staff) before and after games, as well as mandating that six to eight feet of space be kept between the players and media members during availability sessions outside of the team locker rooms.
By Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors made the next big move – announcing that they’ll be prohibiting fans from attending their home games, following a local San Francisco ban on events with crowds of more than 1,000 people. Then the entire NBA decided they smelled sound logic, and followed suit.
But this was all before any players had been personally affected or even aware of any risky contact.
Yesterday, news of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert contracting coronavirus broke, alongside the announcement that the league will be suspending the entire season.
The decision comes with the recognition of some important details of this situation: that the league can’t really dictate, control, or monitor who their players come into contact with in their personal lives. It’s not clear how long this suspension will last, but for the time being, it doesn’t seem like there is an alternative. While the news will undoubtedly be very disappointing to many fans, it’s important to note that it’s the NBA who is risking billions of dollars in tickets, television sales and practically every other seasonal profit in order to keep their players healthy and contribute to public safety.
Now, it’s time to find out just how far the virus has already spread. It certainly didn’t go unnoticed that Gobert’s hands were feeling extra friendly shortly before he fell ill…
On Monday, Rudy Gobert made a point of touching all the microphones and recorders at his media availability. Tonight, he tested positive for COVID-19.
— theScore (@theScore) March 12, 2020
With what we already know about the gradual and silent spread of the virus, only time will tell.