On Wednesday, March 11, the NBA announced the suspension of their season until further notice amidst over COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. The announcement came following the matchup between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder.
One of Utah’s players, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the coronavirus right before the game. At the time, players and fans were still in the arena and the game was quickly postponed before the suspension announcement.
The same night, four other NBA games were set to be played. However, the contest between the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings was also canceled due to the referee having worked a previous Utah Jazz game.
Teams who played and officials who referred for the Jazz in the past week were told to self-quarantine while others attempted to get tested.
However, there were also players who played the teams who played the Jazz, so a bigger spread could be a concern. Another Utah player, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive for coronavirus.
Some NBA players took to social media to state their thoughts about the situation. Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry tweeted, “2020 ain’t it. Don't know what to compare this situation to…just gotta buckle up and take care of yourself and those around you. Basketball will be back at some point but right now, protect yourself and stay safe out there!”
The NBA set a precedent with cancelations. The NHL suspended their season soon after the NBA along with Major League Soccer, and the NCAA announced the cancelation of March Madness. Prior to the NBA suspension, the NCAA planned to continue March Madness with limited spectators.
Since the announcement, multiple NBA players and organizations have committed to financial aid during the hiatus. From the Pelicans, Zion Williamson took to Instagram to express his plans. The post wrote, “Today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.”
Rudy Gobert also pledged to donate $200,000 to the Jazz home arena, $200,000 to coronavirus social services in Utah and Oklahoma City and over $100,000 to France, his native country, for coronavirus relief.
David Jamie, assistant director of intramural and club sports at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, had some thoughts about the NBA suspension.
“I do think the NBA was at the forefront of setting precedent as to what other organizations may want to do,” Jamie said. “I believe that because of where they’re at in their season and their international presence, so with their dealings in other countries, they understood a little bit more as to what other sports leagues were doing and how they were handling it even a few months back.”
Chris Spencer, graduate assistant of competitive sports at UL Lafayette, added on to Jamie’s thoughts, “I think it’s just necessary realistically.”
“With the way that the virus spreads, it’s typically respiratory, so that’s super simple for somebody that’s playing 2-3 games a week and they’re in contact with people all over the country, it just makes sense to have to cancel those games,” Spencer said.
Spencer then talked about the Jazz players with confirmed cases.
“Now at this point there are two confirmed cases in the NBA both on the same team; however, they played I think at least five teams in that span where they think he might have contracted it, so now those teams have played other teams,” Spencer said.
Spencer cited a podcast from an expert for his next statement.
“I’ve also heard realistically this is going to not last forever,” Spencer said.
Student and intramural basketball player, Sydney Mickens also chimed in. “I feel like it’s what happened for the best. It’s for the best of the players,” Mickens said.