With Nuggets basketball on a ‘hiatus’ due to COVID-19, what now?

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) and head coach Michael Malone celebrate defeating the Milwaukee Bucks at the Pepsi Center.
Mar 9, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) and head coach Michael Malone celebrate defeating the Milwaukee Bucks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It has been just over five days since the conclusion of the Denver Nuggets battle with the Dallas Mavericks and that game — a 113-97 loss in Dallas for Denver — is starting to look like it could end up being the final NBA game of the 2019-20 season due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The simple truth is this: COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, has brought the world to a halt.

All around the globe there are extreme measures being taken to contain the pandemic. In Italy, health care workers in hospitals are being forced to make war-time-like decisions because of the lack of resources. One of the more intense examples of these war-time decisions is the fact that Italians over 80-years-old “will be left to die” because of the lack of resources to treat everyone with coronavirus, according to The Telegraph. In Italy, the death toll has exceeded 2,000 with 349 lives lost over the past 24 hours bringing the total to 2,158 per the country’s Civil Protection Agency.

At the time of this writing, there have already been over 6,500 deaths worldwide due to the coronavirus according to CNN. In the United States, there are 3,910 confirmed cases, but that amount likely pales in comparison to the actual number of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 being that testing for coronavirus is so difficult and incredibly uncommon even to this day.

In Denver, there have been some significant shifts in daily life to combat the spread of COVID-19. All sporting events have been cancelled, bars and restaurants are now only going to be serving to-go food, events with 50-or-more people have been forced to cancel, and now even Donald Trump has told the American public to avoid being in groups of 10-or-more people.

All of these precautions are to attempt to “flatten the curve” so that hospitals do not end up with more patients than beds or a lack of ventilators for people who desperately need them. The main reason that the death toll just continues to rise is the lack of hospital beds and resources to treat the needy.

So what does all of this mean for the NBA?

For now, the NBA is still in wait-and-see mode. Yes, the season has been put on a “hiatus”, but no one really knows how long that hiatus could last. At first, it was a 30-day hiatus. Now, just two days since that original report, owners are already bracing for the potential of a three-month postponement of the league according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

What is more concerning is that the three-month timeline seems somewhat arbitrary. What happens if another NBA player tests positive for COVID-19? Does the timeline then get extended further? At the time of this writing, there are only three NBA players who have tested positive for coronavirus and they all stem from the same individual. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19. Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell was the second NBA player to test positive and the third and final player to contract COVID-19 is Christian Wood, who defended Gobert a few days before it became known that Gobert had tested positive.

Simply stated, no one has any idea of when basketball could resume, but it seems incredibly unlikely that there will be games played prior to June.

For now, everyone — the Nuggets roster, coaching staff, front office, team personnel, media and all fans — need to be in lockstep to fight back against the coronavirus. That means social distancing, avoiding groups of people, and staying away from skin-to-skin contact with others while also listening to advice from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Federation.

In order to do exactly that, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment has chosen to suspend all events “at Pepsi Center, Paramount Theatre, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and 1STBANK Center for 30 days” according to the press release sent out by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.

“Denver is an incredibly resilient city,” said KSE Vice-Chairman Josh Kroenke. “We have met tragedies and uncertainty head-on many times before, and we are doing so again now. The impact COVID-19 is having on our health and business communities is unprecedented. We are not health experts. However, we are business and community leaders, and we all have a role to play in helping one another. Please take this threat very seriously for the benefit of yourself and your loved ones, and please regularly check CDC and WHO websites for updates and greater information.”

They also took their contributions a few steps further than the suspension of professional sports at all of their locations.

Most importantly, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment made a commitment to pay their entire event staff who were at risk of being left without income due to the shutdown of all Kroenke Sports and Entertainment events.

“One of the many consequences of the pandemic is its effect on area businesses of all sizes,” Kroenke said. “Many companies – in particular the service industry – are temporarily laying off hard-working employees due to the cancellation of events amid an uncertain future.

“Our hourly KSE event staff plays an integral role in ensuring our fan experience is first class in every way, and it is with these thoughts in mind that KSE will continue to pay its part-time and hourly employees for the next 30 days. We also have asked our vendors and partners to do the same.”

In addition to paying hourly workers for the next 30 days, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment also donated six pallets of food that would have perished to help “assist the community with hunger” due to the “current state of grocery stores and the need for food worldwide”.

Here is the statement from Kroenke Sports and Entertainment:

“Given the current state of grocery stores and need for food worldwide, KSE and its vendors are also proud and long-time partners with area agencies who are leading the charge to assist the community with hunger. KSE continues to work with the local food recovery program, We Don’t Waste, to provide food for those in need and, yesterday with our partners, donated six pallets of food that would have perished given the recent event suspensions at our numerous venues.”

Prevention is the best offense against COVID-19 and that will continue to be the priority for the NBA going forward. While that does not provide any insight into how long it could be before things start to return to normal, it is simply the truth. All we have control over is supporting one another throughout this trying time and doing everything in our power to not contribute to the spreading of the coronavirus.

“It is a very trying time for our tight-knit sports community, but more importantly for human beings in general,” Kroenke said. “My father and I have personally had many conversations with coaches, players, executives, and support staff from our teams and clubs around the world, and it is inspiring to hear the determination to not only get through this difficult period but also to help and motivate others while doing so.

“From all of us here at KSE and on behalf of my family, please stay smart, stay safe, and support one another.”

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