The National Basketball Association (NBA) 2019-20 season has officially been suspended. The NBA entered a 30-day hiatus on March 12. This was the first major action taken by a sports league since March 5 when the Italian government decided to continue their soccer matches without any fan attendance. Following the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 Coronavirus, cases of players being infected with the virus has forced the league to make this heavy decision.
So, how did this all happen? The entire series of events can be traced back to an NBA postgame interview on March 9. The media was interviewing Utah Jazz’s French star center Rudy Gobert regarding his terrible performance of six points and four rebounds in 32 minutes against the Toronto Raptors. As funny as it turns out, his performance on the court was not the only terrible thing he would endure that day. Right after his interview, Gobert decided that it would be funny to mock the virus by touching every microphone before he left.
A few days later on March 12, right before an Oklahoma City Thunder vs Utah Jazz game, Gobert was tested positive for COVID-19, which caused the NBA to make its decision of suspending the league. Normally, one would expect Gobert, a two time defensive player of the year and first time all star, to have more common sense than to mock a serious pandemic. However, I also do not believe that he deserves the hate that he has received. As a defensive player, his job is to shut down other players when they try to score. In this case, he was just doing his job really well by shutting down the whole league.
Gobert was also not the only player who tested positive to the virus. One day later his teammate and the team’s star player Donovan Mitchell also tested positive, and they were later joined by Detroit Piston’s Christian Wood, Kevin Durant, two unnamed players in the Brooklyn Nets, one unnamed player in the Denver Nuggets, three more unnamed players in the Philadelphia 76ers, two more unnamed players of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtic’s Marcus Smart.
Though it may be a disappointing way for this season to progress, NBA commissioner Adam Silver deserves credit for making the right decision. Since there have already been 14 players that have tested positive for this virus, the number of cases would definitely increase if it continued.
Despite all this, I believe there are still many positives that come out of this situation. First of all, the NBA has made its league pass free to the public, which has allowed all NBA games in the past to be accessible to all. But more importantly, the NBA will be forced to respond to many new problems following the season, and this could lead to some heavy changes in the future of the league. These new changes could lead to a better flexibility of the league when in global crises but could also allow the league to review and improve its current system. One major problem the NBA will face is how will the season continue? Will they cancel the entire season and move on to the next one? Will they continue this season? Or will they start straight into the playoffs? Only time will tell.