By most measures, March 11, 2020, started out as a normal cusp-of-spring day, with many of the same sorts of headlines that fill most March mornings. But in between all of those headlines were questions and updates about the growing concern over the coronavirus.
Also that morning, a player on the Utah Jazz was sick. He was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. He’d tested negative for the flu and negative for strep throat. He and his team were on the road, in Oklahoma City, ahead of a game against the Thunder that night. The Jazz contacted local health officials to arrange for a test. Only the Jazz front office, NBA officials and Oklahoma City public health officials knew the player’s identity: Rudy Gobert.
That afternoon, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA board of governors got on a call. Much like the NCAA, it was expected that Silver would announce that the NBA would play games without fans until the outbreak was under control. At dinnertime on March 11, these announcements felt shocking and bold.
By bedtime, they were naive and outdated.
Not long after Silver’s call with the board of governors, Gobert’s test results came back just minutes before tipoff: He had tested positive for COVID-19. The game was postponed and the two teams were confined to their locker rooms. They would test everyone who came in close contact with Gobert, and keep anyone who had come in close contact in isolation.
At 9 p.m. ET, President Donald Trump addressed the nation for roughly 10 minutes and announced that he was putting in place a European travel ban in response to the pandemic. And then came the news: The NBA was suspending its season.
We had woken up on the morning of March 11, 2020, in one reality … but by the time we went to sleep, we were living in a new one.
Listen to March 11 2020
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