COMMENTARY: NBA season suspended for COVID-19 concerns, Rudy Gobert’s negligence spread Coronavirus across Utah Jazz


Jan Fante / Wikimedia Commons

NBA star Rudy Gobert recently became the first NBA player who tested positive for coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic spread onto the NBA this past Wednesday after Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus just before the opening tipoff of the regular-season matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Jazz. The game was eventually canceled minutes before tip-off and fans were sent home. 

On Wednesday night the NBA suspended its remaining regular-season games until further notice. Teams, however, are still allowed to practice. 

Before the game, Gobert and teammate Emmanuel Mudiay were not in the Jazz lineup due to illness. According to CBS, Gobert was not at Chesapeake Energy Arena but instead was at the team hotel. Regardless, Gobert still managed to make an impact on his team. His teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for coronavirus. 

Prior to testing positive for the coronavirus, Gobert was careless and negligent. On Monday, he jokingly touched multiple microphones and audio equipment after a press conference. In the locker room, he repeatedly touched other teammates and their personal belongings, per ESPN.

The coronavirus pandemic is lethal and necessary preventive measures should be taken at all costs. Yes, Gobert wasn’t aware that he was carrying the virus, but that isn’t a valid excuse. His negligent and careless actions transmitted the virus to star guard Donovan Mitchell. His negligence led to the cancellation of his team’s game. His negligence potentially influenced league officials to suspend the NBA regular season – arguably the only source of income for multiple players, team and arena employees. 

However, it is not Gobert’s fault that the NBA is suspended. Yes, he made some reckless decisions, but it’s not like the suspension of the NBA regular season wasn’t imminent. Earlier in the week, the Golden State Warriors announced that they would play their home game versus the Brooklyn Nets without fans. Shortly, other teams would have followed suit.

Yet, it’s fair to acknowledge the consequences of underestimating the power of the coronavirus. Look, perhaps Gobert was trying to be funny and prove that coronavirus is just another piece of propaganda that has been accentuated by the media; perhaps he wasn’t. Regardless, it is important to understand how fast and easily coronavirus can spread.

After testing positive for the coronavirus, Gobert has since apologized for his actions. He posted the following on Instagram:

“The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.”

While Gobert made an egregious mistake, it is important to forgive him. In fact, in some weird way, Gobert’s carelessness saved the NBA from itself. Yes, teams are losing money, but let’s look at the bigger picture. Even with empty arenas, the NBA’s most prized asset, the players, would have been exposed to the virus on a daily basis: at the practice facility, locker room, airport, among other places. 

As Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN, “It’s really not about basketball or money,” Cuban said, “now it’s much more personal.”