Within just a few hours of the World Health Organization declaring the new coronavirus, COVID-19, to be a pandemic on March 11, there were several national changes made in the United States in an attempt to minimize personal contact and to slow the spread of the virus. Travel from Europe to the U.S. was suspended for one month, beginning on March 13 at midnight, and the NBA suspended the season indefinitely because a player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Which NBA players have the coronavirus?
The NBA announced that it was suspending the league until further notice following confirmation that a player had tested positive for the coronavirus just minutes before the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to tip-off on March 11.
The basketball organization put out a press release on Twitter that stated the following:
"The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight's game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight's game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena," it read.
"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic," it concluded.
Following this statement, there was widespread concern as to which player was sick. Multiple sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Utah Jazz player, French center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
While the Jazz did not confirm explicitly who the player was, in their statement, they stated the circumstances around said players' testing and symptoms.
"This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection," the statement read. "The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of today, however, in a precautionary measure, and 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."
Though Rudy had allegedly been under the weather, he had been planning on playing in the March 11 game. But, he was in an Oklahoma City hotel room when the news spread that he had the virus. He had not been present at the team's warm ups and practice that day, but all players on both teams were later tested.
Before word came out that the league had canceled the game or suspended the season, the OKC fans were told to leave the arena.
The remaining Jazz and Thunder players were quarantined in their respective locker rooms while their cheeks were swabbed for testing. They wore masks and gloves while waiting for the testing to conclude.
The league's suspension also has to do with the fact that Rudy and the other Jazz players had played several other teams in the days leading up to his diagnosis. Prior to the suspension, the NBA had announced that fans would not be permitted to attend games starting on March 12.
Within 10 days of Rudy's coronavirus diagnosis, the Jazz had played the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Detroit Pistons. It is possible that Rudy could have transmitted the disease to players on any of these teams.
In fact, after the Jazz played the Pistons on March 7, the Pistons claimed that one of their own players was diagnosed with COVID-19. According to a statement released by the Pistons, the then-unnamed player had a positive result come back on March 14. It was later reported that the player was Christian Wood.
Following the league's suspension, a source once again revealed to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Rudy's teammate, 23-year-old Donovan Mitchell, tested positive for the coronavirus. The Jazz confirmed that there were only two players on the entire team who had it.
According to the same report, Rudy's teammates are upset with him because he appeared to not take the coronavirus precautions seriously in the days leading up to his diagnosis.
It was alleged that he touched his teammates and their belongings repeatedly.
"As a follow-up to yesterday’s positive COVID-19 test, Oklahoma health officials tested all members of the Utah Jazz traveling party, confirming one additional positive outcome for a Jazz player. We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials, and the NBA to monitor their health and determine the best path moving forward," the Utah Jazz said in a statement.
As with Rudy's alleged case, the team did not confirm who the other player was, only outside reports did.
Rudy Gobert joked about having coronavirus in the days leading up to his testing.
In a joke that clearly did not age well, Rudy touched all of the reporters' microphones following a March 9 press conference. After losing to the Toronto Raptors, the Jazz player discussed the league's response to the coronavirus and the loss in the conference. Interestingly, the press conference took place in an interview room instead of the locker room because of the concerns over the coronavirus.
Rudy's joke to touch all the microphones was in apparent response to the NBA's precautionary measures. Now that Rudy has apparently tested positive for the coronavirus, this then-lighthearted measure is now of immense concern to health officials.
The NBA player has yet to officially confirm his health status or to comment at all on the matter.
Kevin Durant and three other Nets players have confirmed they tested positive for COVID-19.
Although the Brooklyn Nets have not played the Utah Jazz or the Detroit Pistons recently, the team has confirmed that four players have contracted the coronavirus. The Nets' official statement claimed that, of the four players, only one has actually experienced symptoms. The other three are asymptomatic.
One of the asymptomatic players came forward and admitted that he had tested positive. Kevin Durant told The Athletic that he is "feeling fine" but he encourages everyone to "be careful. Take care of yourself and quarantine."
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.