NBA season over: ‘Unprecedented, unreal’

Agence France-Presse

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NBA season over: ‘Unprecedented, unreal’
'It's a very serious time right now. I think the league moved appropriately,' says Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra


LOS ANGELES, USA – Dallas owner Mark Cuban was sitting courtside at the Mavericks game against Denver when he got the news on his phone.

“I thought this is crazy. It can’t be true,” Cuban said. “It is like out of a movie. Unreal.” 

Upon learning the news about the suspension of the NBA season, Cuban immediately walked over to the team bench to let the team officials know and then walked on the court to tell the officials.

“It is not about basketball and money. This is exploding to the point where I think about the families. We are making sure we are doing this the right way,” he said. 

“The idea that a couple of players have it …. it is stunning, isn’t the right word.”

The NBA suspended play starting Thursday, March 12, after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert preliminarily tested positive for the new coronavirus. (READ: NBA to suspend season after Jazz player tests positive for coronavirus)

The test result was reported shortly before Utah’s game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City was to begin, and that game was abruptly postponed.

The league said the affected player was not at the arena.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said this is much bigger than basketball.

“Stunned,” Spoelstra said after his team lost to the visiting Charlotte Hornets.

“It’s a very serious time right now. I think the league moved appropriately,” added Spoelstra, who concluded his post-game press conference by saying: “There’s nothing to really talk about with the game, right?”

The league-wide decision was made after the confusing scenes in Oklahoma City, where Jazz and Thunder players took the court to warm up, but shortly before the scheduled tip-off were sent to their locker rooms before police began to clear the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Fans were told only that the game was postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances” before they were herded out of the arena.

The NBA did not name the player who had tested positive, but several US media outlets reported it was French defensive standout Gobert, who was listed first as questionable for the game and then later out with illness.

Teammate Emmanuel Mudiay was also listed as suffering from an undisclosed illness on the team’s injury report.

The Jazz issued a statement saying that the affected player initially tested negative for influenza and a respiratory infection. 

The decision was made to test again for COVID-19. They did not name the player in the statement. The player tested positive and is being treated by health officials in Oklahoma City.

“A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game,” the Jazz statement said. “The decision was correctly made by the NBA postpone the game.”

Six NBA games were scheduled for Wednesday. Four were underway when the game in Oklahoma City was called off and a later game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Kings in Sacramento was also postponed.

“It’s unprecedented,” Detroit coach Dwayne Casey – whose Pistons fell to the 76ers in Philadelphia – said of the decision to suspend the season. “I think it’s the prudent thing to do.”

Cuban said he is ready to do whatever the league asks of him.

“I am not an expert,” he said. “The NBA has people who specialize in this. They are talking to the CDC. I don’t want to fake it.”

Cuban said he was thinking of the safety and health of his family.

“I walked over to my wife and said ‘do we send our kids to school tomorrow?'”

“This is global pandemic,” he added. “Peoples’ lives are at stake. I am more worried about my kids and my 82-year-old mother than when we play our next game.”

Mavericks guard JJ Barea said he tried to block it out of his mind while the game against the Nuggets was on.

“It is like bad movie,” Barea said. “We’ve got to be safe and learn from it. 

“I’ve got little bit of fear. But you can only control what you can control. Tonight my job was to play basketball.” 

Nuggets player Paul Millsap said he was stunned by the news of the developments.

“It is a scary situation. Everyone is in shock,” said Millsap. –

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