With the announcement Wednesday night that the NBA game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder has been postponed in light of Rudy Gobert’s positive test for coronavirus, a video of the Jazz Center’s meeting with the press on Monday has took on disturbing nuances.
As described by the Salt Lake City Tribuneby Eric Walden, reporters covering Jazz met players after a shootout at one-on-one press conferences at the team’s Zions Bank Basketball Center rather than on the field. Following NBA restrictions on media access to respond to coronavirus concerns, reporters sat six feet away from players for safety measures.
Although many athletes and media view these policies as excessive, their need is becoming more evident every day. However, during a meeting with the press on Monday, Gobert demonstrated that he felt that it was not necessary to stay away from journalists, making it a point of honor to touch the microphones and recorders placed in front of them. him.
Of course, that may have sounded funny at the time. It is difficult to say if the laughter of the journalists in the room was uncomfortable. (And speaking into those recording devices was already problematic.) But Gobert’s move also seemed irresponsible amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus, though there are many who think the fears are disproportionate and exaggerated.
However, Gobert tested positive for what he joked about days later. This resulted in the postponement of Wednesday’s game and helped confirm the NBA’s initiative to suspend the remainder of the regular season until more information is learned and the safety of everyone involved can be made. assured.
Until then, anyone who has recently been in contact with Gobert is on alert. Players from the NBA teams Gobert and the Jazz have faced in the past 10 days – the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons – have been invited by the league. to quarantine for the next two weeks. . The last game of Wednesday’s NBA calendar, between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings, have been reported when it became known that referee Courtney Kirkland had refereed Monday’s Jazz-Raptors game and had come into contact with players who may be infected.
And as you might expect, the reporters covering the Utah Jazz – whose equipment may have been negligently touched by Gobert – have suddenly been very concerned about their health and well-being. These fears were first expressed by Tony Jones of Athletic, in a tweet that has since been deleted. Here is a screenshot:
Jones’ sentiment was understandable and captures the uncertainty among anyone, even remotely, involved in the situation. However, while the content of the tweet is very real and human, it could also be seen as unprofessional and provocative, which is probably why it was deleted.
News from Déseret Journalist Sarah Todd also expressed concern on Wednesday as she and other media were left at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City wondering what to do next.
We don’t know how or when we’re going to be tested, we don’t know anything other than what we’re going through every day around these guys. And that an entire arena has been emptied. Now we are sitting in the depths of the arena waiting to know our next step.
– Sarah Todd (@NBASarah) March 12, 2020
These are just two members of the media publicly voicing their concerns on social media. (KUTV sports presenter Dave Fox posted Gobert’s video on his account, as well.) It remains to be seen whether Gobert’s actions could have other consequences.
Obviously, many more – be it the media, team and installation staff, and fans, as well as the entire NBA – are now concerned about whether their health has been compromised. If coronavirus fears weren’t taken seriously by some, Wednesday night’s events – President Trump’s address to the nation, Tom Hanks announcing him and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive, the NBA deciding to suspend the rest of the season – perhaps brought those concerns to the fore.
UPDATE: Gobert apologized Thursday to those he “could endanger”.