NEW YORK (CBS SF) — The National Basketball Association Wednesday night announced that the league would suspend the 2019-2020 season in the wake of the currently spreading coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came after the Golden State Warriors became the first major sports team in America to exclude fans from the team’s arena during home games after San Francisco officials announced they were banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people for the next two weeks.
The NBA announcement stated that the league would “use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The NBA also announced Wednesday night that a player on the Utah Jazz has presumptively tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported just prior to the tip-off of Wednesday night’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
According to reports, the Jazz player who tested positive is center Rudy Gobert.
Officials announced shortly before it’s scheduled start that the game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.
The Warriors released a statement Wednesday night saying they completely support the NBA’s decision.
“As we noted earlier today, with the escalating situation surrounding COVID-19, we find ourselves in a rapidly-changing environment by the day, if not the hour. We have seen that precise scenario unfold over the course of today and we completely support the NBA’s decision to suspend our season until further notice. The health and safety of our fans, staff and players has always been, and always will be, our top priority,” the statement read.
Earlier Wednesday Warriors President Rick Welts — who had a morning meeting with San Francisco Mayor London Breed — said he was in contact with league headquarters and believed a more expansive announcement may be possible. There was be a league-wide call on Wednesday afternoon.
“The NBA agreed the best way forward for us was to play tomorrow night’s game without fans,” he said. “That’s what we are planning to do. There is a call with all 30 teams this afternoon where the league will conduct a discussion about the way forward for our season. San Francisco is the first domino to fall here. I think there is a lot of speculation that other cities will look at what San Francisco is doing and we potentially could have other NBA cities affected the way we are in the not too distant future.”
“It a developing story, we don’t know how it is going to end.”
The suspension of play will be until further notice. The league has not announced any plans beyond the suspension of play.
Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said the team was just trying keep pace with the quickly evolving story and that was when the Warriors were facing still playing games, but without fans.
“Everybody is just trying to soak it all in,” he told reporters. “This whole thing has happened pretty quickly over the last couple week, just the severity of it, the enormity of it so when we addressed our players (at morning practice in the lockerroom) everybody was just sort of trying to take it all in. There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion.”
Warriors star Steph Curry was shocked by the announcement.
“We’ve been paying attention to the latest current events — all the conversations about what should be done,” he said. “When we found out there wasn’t going to be any fans it was kinda like we don’t know what to expect. I’ve been in this league for a very long time and have never had to deal with anything like this. It’ll be different, it will be weird.”
Curry was the center of coronavirus rumors over the weekend. He had a bout with the flu and the team quickly sent out a press release saying his illness was not related to the coronavirus.
“I started to feel a little under the weather,” he said. “The seasonal flu and all that type of stuff it comes and goes for a lot of different people. Obviously now it’s a little heighten sensitivity as there should be with the coronavirus so I had to go through the necessary process and steps to make sure I was all right.”