LOS ANGELES, USA – The NBA will suspend play starting Thursday, March 12, as Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert – the NBA back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year – tested positive for COVID-19, the league said Wednesday.
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.
"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice," the league said. "The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke that Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus just minutes before the game.
Players had been on the court warming up but were sent to their locker rooms before the public address announcer told fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena that the game wouldn't take place because of "unforeseen circumstances."
The confusing scenes unfolded as the NBA grappled with how best to respond to increasing concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus.
The NBA did not name the player who had tested positive, but several US media outlets reported it was French defensive 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.
Six NBA games were scheduled for Wednesday and four were underway when the game in Oklahoma City was called off.
"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."
The Golden State Warriors initially confirmed they would host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday in San Francisco behind closed doors after San Francisco city officials announced a two-week ban on all gatherings of more than 1,000 people.