The NBA announced that it will suspend the season after the Wednesday night schedule until further notice as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The announcement came shortly after a game between the Utah Jazz and the host Oklahoma City Thunder was called off moments before tipoff.
According to the NBA, a Jazz player preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus — COVID-19. The NBA stated the affected player was not in the arena at the time.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the player in question is Utah center Rudy Gobert, and that players from the Jazz and Thunder were being quarantined at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
“This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection,” the Jazz said in a statement. “… In consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19.
“A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game. Subsequently, the decision was correctly made by the NBA to postpone the game,” the statement continued.
At the time of the announcement, the Dallas Mavericks’ home game against the Denver Nuggets was midway through the third quarter.
ESPN cameras caught Mavericks owner Mark Cuban finding out the news as he looked at a phone while sitting courtside, then walking to the Dallas bench before another man — presumably on the team’s staff — took the phone and talked to on-court officials.
“This is crazy. This can’t be true. This isn’t within the realm of possibility,” Cuban told ESPN. “I’m not an expert. I’m not going to try to be an expert. Our plan here was to defer to the NBA.
“I trust Adam (Silver, the NBA commissioner). It’s really not about basketball or money. If this is just exploding to the point that players and others have it … you think about your family. Stunning isn’t the right word. It’s not about the team. It’s about the country and life in general.”
Cuban said NBA teams are being permitted to “stay together” and hold practices.
He also turned his attention to team and arena employees certain to be impacted by any prolonged stoppage.
“In talking, when some of the things were coming up that we might not play games I reached out to folks at the arena and the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support people who might not be able to come to work to support them,” he said. “We’ve already started the process and putting plan in place. We might ask them to do volunteer work in exchange but this is important to me.”
Two other games — the New York Knicks at the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets at the Miami Heat — were late in the fourth quarter.
All three games were to be allowed to finish before the suspension goes into effect.
The New Orleans Pelicans were also scheduled to play at the Sacramento Kings for a 10:30 p.m. ET tipoff, but the game was officially postponed shortly after 10:30.