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No more Nets: NBA suspends season amid coronavirus outbreak

Nets' game in Golden State cancelled after Utah player tests positive

March 12, 2020 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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The Brooklyn Nets were fully prepared to play the second leg of their four-game West Coast swing in San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors Thursday night, albeit without any fans present due to ongoing safeguards against the coronavirus.

Instead, the NBA stepped in Wednesday night and officially announced that it had decided to suspend the season indefinitely, a move that came on the heels of a player on the Utah Jazz, reportedly center Rudy Gobert, testing positive for COVID-19.

“This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of today,” a release from the Jazz organization revealed.

“However, in a precautionary measure and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19. A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off.”

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The Jazz were in Oklahoma City when the positive test came in and the league took immediate action, postponing the contest between Utah and the hometown Thunder.

Wednesday night’s New Orleans-Sacramento was also pulled off the slate and the NBA will go dark until further notice as the nation, and the entire world, continues to fight against this deadly virus, which has already claimed 38 lives in the U.S. and well over 4,000 worldwide, as of Thursday morning.

“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league announced.

What those “next steps” are is anyone’s guess at this point.

A multi-billion dollar industry shutting down just over a month shy of the start of its playoffs came just days after the NCAA opted to play its entire championship basketball tournament without fans present.

Other sports, like the National Hockey League, which is also nearing the end of its regular season, and Major League Baseball, currently holding its spring training games in Florida and Arizona, could be next.

“It’s really not about basketball or money,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN Wednesday night before his team beat the visiting Denver Nuggets, 113-97, before a sellout crowd of 20,302 at the American Airlines Center.

That proved to be the last game of the night and may be the last NBA game for a while as public health concerns continue to swell.

“This thing is just exploding to the point where all of a sudden, players and owners alike, you think about your family,” Cuban added. “You want to really make sure you’re doing this the right way. Because now it’s much more personal.”

The NBA Board of Governors had met earlier in the day to discuss potential options for dealing with the crisis, with the Nets-Warriors game serving as an example of how they might go forward without fans in attendance.

But the positive test of a player, coupled with the mystery surrounding exactly how to deal with the virus, made playing games in full or empty arenas a moot point.

The last five teams who had faced Gobert and the Jazz, a list that includes the New York Knicks, could be facing potential testing and quarantine restrictions going forward.

The Knicks beat the Hawks Wednesday night in Atlanta and opted to remain in the team hotel instead of flying to Miami for their next scheduled contest, which had already been cancelled, or back home to New York.

Coming off their most impressive win of the year, a 104-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the opener of a four-game road trip, the Brooklyn Nets learned the remainder of the NBA season was suspended indefinitely Wednesday night. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The Nets, who were in the midst of a turbulent albeit playoff-bound campaign, had won three straight games and four of their last five, including arguably the most impressive victory of the season Tuesday night in Los Angeles against LeBron James and the Western Conference-leading Lakers.

“It was an extremely big win for us, especially playing against a team like that. They’re playing their best basketball of the season right now,” Nets guard Caris LeVert said as the team prepared to go up the coast to San Francisco.

“So it was a huge win for us [and] for our confidence going forward, especially starting the road trip off.”

It also proved to be the end of the road trip, and perhaps, the end of the Nets’ season.

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