NBA Season On Hold After Player Tests Positive For Coronavirus (COVID-19) In OKC

Wednesday, March 11th 2020, 8:55 pm
By: News On 6

In an unprecedented and historic development, the NBA has decided to suspend its season after one of its stars tested positive for COVID-19, coronavirus. The move was confirmed by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski early Wednesday evening, about an hour after the Utah Jazz's game in Oklahoma City was postponed.


NBA reporter with The Athletic, Shams Charania, reported that the player in question is Utah's Rudy Gobert.

It is believed that Gobert is in Oklahoma City, having traveled with the team, but that he was not at the arena Wednesday night. 

Moments before tip-off, Thunder team officials met with referees and coaches, as reported by News 9's Steve McGehee. After a conversation, both teams returned to the locker room.

That's when the fans who packed Chesapeake Arena were told that they were safe but that the game would not be played, and they needed to go home. 

News 9 Political Analyst Scott Mitchell, who has been covering COVID-19 since the outbreak took hold a few weeks ago, confirmed that Oklahoma City-County Health Department officials then tested players from both teams.

And then just before 10 p.m., the Oklahoma State Department of Health issued the following statement:

The NBA has announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has been tested for COVID-19 and received a presumptive positive result. Public health officials were able to obtain the test result before the game’s tip off. This is still an ongoing investigation as public health officials are testing other players and staff who have been in contact with the player.  

Those who were in attendance at the game are not at risk of catching COVID-19. As a reminder, COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. Only individuals who are in close contact with a person with COVID-19 would be at risk of exposure.  

As we are all aware, COVID-19 is present in Oklahoma. If you are planning to attend a large public event, please check with the event organizers for information in case the event is postponed or cancelled.  

We strongly recommend that people do not attend events if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. And if event attendees start to experience symptoms while at an event or conference, they should leave the event and seek medical advice promptly by calling ahead to a doctor’s office. 


ESPN NBA writer Royce Young reported that the Thunder had left the arena, but that the Jazz were still there. Wojnarowski followed that up with a source who told him the Jazz were quarantined in Oklahoma City, at least until they coordinate with Oklahoma state and Salt Lake City public health organizations. 

The NBA also released the following statement on its website:

NEW YORK – The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19.  The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.  At that time, tonight’s game was canceled.  The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice.  The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.


And just after 9 p.m., the Utah Jazz released its own statement:

This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The individual's symptoms diminished over the course of today; however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19.

A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game. Subsequently, the decision was correctly made by the NBA to postpone the game. When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office. The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions.

We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how to best move forward as we gather more information. The individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City. In coordination with the NBA and state officials, we will provide updates at the appropriate time.

A spokesman for Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt sent News 9 the following statement: "The governor has been in touch with health officials the entire time leading up to the game tonight and is currently being briefed.”

And Oklahoma City's Mayor, David Holt, posted the following to his Instagram:

It has been reported that a player with the Utah Jazz has been found positive for COVID-19 while the team was in Oklahoma City to play our Thunder. In response to this incident, your emergency management, public safety, city leadership and public health leadership are all gathering right now to investigate and manage the situation. It's still early and ongoing, but very professional and experienced people are on top of it. We'll have updates as the situation evolves.

This is a developing story.