After a bizarre delay, tonight’s Thunder/Jazz game has been officially postponed by the league.
Earlier this afternoon, Rudy Gobert was listed as questionable to play due to illness. This came after he had made light of the coronavirus scare by touching everything in sight at a recent media appearance. Between word of Gobert’s illness made the rounds, and before the game’s tip-off, the league was focused on a board of governors call to deliberate what to do about COVID-19 as pertaining to the rest of the NBA season.
Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) has reported that the consensus among ownership was to pivot to fan-less games starting tomorrow, but the full slate of tonight’s matchups were playing as scheduled (with fans in attendance).
That held true for cities hosting games with confirmed cases of COVID-19, but not for Oklahoma City, where no cases have been confirmed.
After the players, coaches, and referees were announced and set to begin the game, they were abruptly huddled together. No announcement was made to the fans, as the players and officials then made their way to the locker room. The Fox Sports Oklahoma broadcast relayed to the viewing audience that the league was determining whether the game would go on or not, with the illness of Gobert (and teammate Emmanuel Mudiay) in view.
After some stalling by Thunder in-arena entertainment (the halftime show was even performed), the PA announcer broke the news that the game was postponed and told fans they were safe and could go home. Meanwhile, a since-deleted ominous tweet from Tulsa’s News On 6 began circulating, indicating that the police would be shutting down Chesapeake Energy Arena:
A comedy of errors?
The delay was weird, and humor has been a coping mechanism for a society battling a both a serious health threat and the fears stemming from the same. (@DailyThunder included)
Hopefully, jokes about the confusion and Gobert’s silly stunt will be the only lasting outcome from the miscommunication and mismanagement of a potentially serious event. The league was preoccupied all afternoon, so some level of grace can be afforded them for not catching up to the Gobert news at a more convenient time for thousands of paying customers who sat stunned in the arena. The word from FSOK was that the delay and eventual postponement both came from the league office, not the teams involved.
On the other hand, this level of opaqueness only fuels worry and panic during trying times. Unexplained changes at this level, with only a “you’re safe” as a goodbye to worried customers, is…not great. And if anyone on the court or in the stands was actually exposed to the virus, the awkwardness of tonight’s false start will be the least of what the league has to answer for.
Per Shams Charnia of The Athletic, Rudy Gobert has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sam Amick (The Athletic) reports that the Thunder players are undergoing testing for COVID-19.
Wojnarowski says that the NBA is suspending the season.
Official announcement from the NBA:
Daily Thunder will continue to cover the Thunder and the league in the weeks ahead.