As the other major pro sports leagues followed in its wake and suspended their seasons, the NBA carried on Thursday with the awkwardness and uncertainty that is this period of time without basketball.
A day after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, an illness caused by exposure to a novel coronavirus, his teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive, Mitchell confirmed on Instagram. The Jazz and those affiliated with the team were tested after their game in Oklahoma City was postponed Wednesday night. Mitchell was the only other person to test positive.
The Timberwolves were scheduled to have their next game in Oklahoma City on Friday, which would have been their second game of a six-game road trip. But instead they hopped a plane back to Minnesota from Houston as the NBA set some guidelines in place for the next few days. Through Monday, the league said players must remain in the market of their teams and teams cannot hold group meetings or workouts during that time.
The league has also said teams’ athletic trainers and doctors should check in with players at least once per day and for individual workouts, and players should only work out with one coach and at one basket if they are going to practice. Multiple players should not work at the same basket.
ESPN reported that owners are encouraging Commissioner Adam Silver to re-evaluate the league’s suspension of play after 30 days.
These restrictions underline just how precarious it is to do anything basketball related in the wake of Gobert’s positive test.
Gobert broke his silence over the diagnosis Thursday.
“I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours,” Gobert wrote on Instagram. “I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.”
Gobert said he was “under great care” but also apologized to “the people I may have endangered,” a potential reference to a video showing Gobert putting his hands on reporters’ microphones and recorders a few days before he tested positive for the virus.
“At the time, I had no idea I was even infected,” Gobert wrote. “I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.
‘‘I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus.”
Teams that played the Jazz recently, including the Celtics, Pistons, Raptors, Cavaliers and Knicks, were being asked to self-quarantine.
The Wolves have not played the Jazz since December, nor have they played any team that recently faced the Jazz.
Mitchell also released a statement via Instagram.
“We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well-being of those around them,” Mitchell said.
“I appreciate the authorities in Oklahoma who were helpful with the testing process and everyone from the [Jazz] who have been so supportive. I am going to keep following the advice of our medical staff and hope that we can all come together and be there for each other and our neighbors who need our help.”