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Sports

NBA Player Tests Positive For COVID-19, Season Suspended 'Until Further Notice'

Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert Photo Credit: Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons

The NBA suspended its season “until further notice” Wednesday after discovering that a player tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice,'' the league said in a statement issued shortly after 9:30 p.m. 

That plan quickly changed when two games were suspended after fans were already in their seats or filing in. 

The player who tested positive for COVID-19, the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, initially was listed as questionable to play against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, then was ruled out and didn't come to the arena.

Moments before tipoff, a Thunder medical staffer met with referees on the floor. Head coaches Quin Snyder and Billy Donovan were brought over and both teams returned to their locker rooms.

The referees then spoke directly with the NBA league office and the game was suspended.

Thunder players were eventually cleared to leave, but the Jazz players were to remain under quarantine in Oklahoma City, ESPN's Adrian Wojarowski reported.

It didn't end there.

What initially was be the last game of the season for the time being, between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings, was cancelled a short time later as fans were filing in to their seats.

The NBA said it did so out of an "abundance of caution" because a referee scheduled to work the game had officiated a Utah Jazz game earlier this week.

The league later urged all teams that had played the Jazz in the previous 10 days -- among them, the New York Knicks -- to self-quarantine. The Knicks won an overtime game in Atlanta against the Hawks Wednesday night.

It wasn't immediately clear when they'd be returning home.

Wednesday night's developments were as unprecedented as they were sudden for the 73-year-old National Basketball Association.There were no estimates of how long the suspension would last.

"The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,'' the league said.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban learned of the move from a security guard during the third quarter of his team's home game against the Denver Nuggets.

“It seemed more like out of a movie than reality,” Cuban told ESPN, while saying that he and his players trust NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s judgment.

That game was completed and became the last regular season contest of the NBA's 2019-2020 season -- for now.

"I think the NBA made the right decision," Cuban later told reporters during a post-game news conference. "It’s stunning, but we are where we are and we have to be smart how we respond. This is people’s lives at stake.

"I’m more worried about my kids, and my mom, who's 82 years old…than I am about when we play our next game. It’s more important for us to get it right."

Cuban said he spoke with team and arena executives "to find out what it would cost to financially support people who would not be able to come to work, who get paid by the hour.”

They're collectively working on a program that likely will ask the employees to provide community service in exchange for their paychecks, he said.

"I have a saying: Life is half random," Cuban said. "This is the random side."

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