A second Utah Jazz player has tested positive for coronavirus, the NBA team said Thursday, a day after the league abruptly suspended its season following news that the virus had impacted the Utah club.
Meanwhile, at least two teams that recently played the Jazz — the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards — say their players and staff have been advised to go into self-isolation as a precaution.
The NBA made several stunning moves late Wednesday, starting with postponing the Jazz’s game with host Oklahoma City Thunder right before tipoff, after learning a Jazz player preliminarily tested positive for the virus.
The league announced not long afterward that it would suspend the season after that night’s slate of games nationwide, and games in Oklahoma City and Sacramento never started, stunning fans who already were in their seats and adding to a list of events altered by the virus’ spread.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert plays against the Portland Trail Blazers on February 7 in Salt Lake City.
Neither the Jazz nor the NBA have named the Jazz players who have tested positive. Earlier, ESPN and other media outlets reported that Jazz all-star center Rudy Gobert tested positive shortly before the planned game in Oklahoma City.
“As a follow-up to yesterday’s positive COVID-19 test, Oklahoma health officials tested all members of the Utah Jazz travelling party, confirming one additional positive outcome for a Jazz player,” the Jazz said Thursday.
“We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials, and the NBA to monitor their health and determine the best path moving forward.”
Four other NBA games were played Wednesday night — but one other, between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings in California, was called off because a referee assigned to work the game had previously worked a Jazz game, the NBA said.
Major League Soccer also suspended its season Thursday, for 30 days, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The suspensions for an outbreak are unusual for professional sports in the United States, a country more used to seeing leagues stop or shrink seasons because of labor issues or, more rarely, war.
Teams, reporters and others are retracing their contact with Jazz players
It’s not clear when either player contracted the virus. But the news has rippled across the league, with people in contact with the team retracing their recent interactions.
Gobert, after a Monday news conference, was seen playfully touching reporters’ microphones and phones before leaving his table. This was two days before reports of his positive test emerged, and after the NBA had placed restrictions on the interactions between players and the media.
It is not clear what symptoms, if any, Gobert had that day.
Other teams are considering the ramifications, too:
• The Toronto Raptors, who played the Jazz in Utah on Monday, said their players, coaches and traveling staff been “advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days.” The Raptors’ traveling party has have been tested for the coronavirus, and is awaiting results, the team said Thursday.
• The Washington Wizards, who visited the Jazz on February 28, have told players and staff to self-quarantine. “The decision was made with an abundance of caution,” the team said Thursday.
The Jazz played several other games recently: At Cleveland (March 2), New York (March 4), Boston (March 6) and Detroit (Saturday).
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said the league is making the right decision to suspend its season.
“Nobody knows what is going to happen next, but this is just a really scary thing,” Barkley told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Thursday, “I’m glad the NBA is shutting down.”