On Monday, Utah Jazz all-star center Rudy Gobert made a coronavirus joke at a press conference, touching all the microphones and tape recorders laid out on a table to signal he wasn’t concerned about spreading the virus.
On Wednesday, Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus before a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Players from both teams were quarantined inside the arena, and soon after, the league suspended its season “until further notice.” (MLS and NHL have done the same, MLB will delay Opening Day at least two weeks, and the NCAA March Madness Tournament has been canceled.) Gobert’s teammate, all-star Donovan Mitchell, later also tested positive. (See Gobert’s apology.)
The Chinese Basketball Association, which suspended its season on February 1, remains out of commission six weeks later; indications are that the earliest it might resume is April 2. The Chinese Super League, China’s top domestic soccer federation, was slated to begin its new season on February 22, but it still doesn’t have a start date. No one knows how long the NBA will be out of action.
Relative to China, sports are much more deeply woven into the fabric of American society, so it’s hard to fathom a complete shutdown of all domestic leagues for a prolonged length of time. But having seen China go through this, it’s worth keeping in mind: Things are going to get worse before they get better.