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NBA: Coronavirus Puts NBA Into Uncharted Territory

What a crazy week it has been for sports and the NBA has followed suit in suspending the 2019/20 season indefinitely due to the coronavirus scare.

Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert was confirmed to be the first player to have contracted the coronavirus after being tested by the league when they suspended the much-anticipated match between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Days before the positive test, Gobert joked about the coronavirus in an interview session with the reporters and he made a point to touch all of their recorders and microphones on his way to his team’s practice.

Two days later, the French international was listed as “questionable” because of an illness as indicated in the Jazz’s injury list report before their game against the Thunder.

Prior to Wednesday’s tipoff, it looked like that everything’s ready to go when starting lineups have been officially named. Then the arena officials left the floor and announced that their decision to postpone the game “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Because of this, all team officials and players for both the Jazz and Thunder are to be subjected to self-quarantine in Oklahoma City for the next few days. At the same time, the league is undergoing thorough investigative measures to check on whether other parties might have contracted the coronavirus.

The Jazz have faced the Cavaliers, Knicks, Celtics, Pistons, and Raptors in the last 10 days and they were told by the league office to do some self-quarantine.

“I’m sure I probably had contact with [Gobert]. But at the same time, like I said, [I’m] just taking precautions,” said Pistons guards Langston Galloway.

“We’ve been washing our hands, and when the reports started coming out, everybody’s kinda been on their hand sanitizer, washing their hands, just staying focused on that moment of, hey, [we have] interaction with a lot of different people and knowing that at the end of the day, you might’ve touched the ball, you might’ve interacted with a fan, and just being [cautious] with that going forward,” he added.

“This is crazy. This can’t be true. This seems like more out of a movie than reality,” said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban upon hearing the news.

Atlanta Hawks fan wearing a face mask during the NBA match
An Atlanta Hawks fan wears a safety mask before the NBA game

So far, the league has gone through so many challenges this season. And that is quite an understatement since this was supposed to be a great season with the playing field looking to be as wide open as it has been for the past five seasons.

This won’t be the first time that an NBA season has been shortened. Nine years ago, the league had a lockout, limiting the season to only 66 games. But with this unprecedented NBA 2020 news, the ripple effect of this shocking suspension could be quite significant particularly on the economic side.

Arena personnel might lose their livelihood while TV, internet, and sponsorship deal revenues are expected to dip. However, Dallas owner Mark Cuban said in a press conference that he will make a continuity program for the arena staff in order to mitigate the losses that are expected to be incurred.

The NBA has already lost a lot of money prior to this season because of an ongoing dispute with the Chinese government. Last October, the league was embroiled with controversy when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey retweeted a pro-Hongkong democracy message indicating a supportive stance to the protests just as the Lakers and Nets were playing exhibitions games in China. As a consequence, the Chinese government have removed the Houston Rockets in their NBA posters.

In what was a very tragic January, the league lost its key icons as former commissioner David Stern and Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died in separate incidents. Stern died several weeks after having a brain hemorrhage while Bryant, along with his 13-year-old Gianna, was among the nine people killed in a fatal helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles.

In addition, days before this incident, NBA commissioner Adam Silver had already considered implementing contingency plans due to the coronavirus. They thought about holding games to neutral venues, limiting media access to the press, and even holding games in a closed-door setting similar to the Serie A.

It’s unfortunate that this unusual season might conclude this early. SBOTOP fans won’t get their daily dose of spectacular NBA highlights, but rather updates about the coronavirus that has been already deemed as a pandemic by the WHO.

We are now in uncharted territory and there will be a lot of uncertainty going forward. Right now, all we can hope and pray for is that this doesn’t become our reality for too long.

 

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