As the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks battled with each other in the third quarter of their marquee Wednesday night matchup, the outcome of the game was rendered meaningless soon after.
Yes, the Nuggets lost 113-97, but by the time the fourth quarter arrived, the game itself was almost entirely inconsequential.
At 7:31pm MDT, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the 2019-20 NBA season would be put on a “hiatus” for the foreseeable future in order to decide the next steps for the league going forward in the wake of COVID-19, which now considered a pandemic according to the World Health Organization.
That means that there will be no professional basketball played for the foreseeable future.
The reason for the sudden decision stemmed from the last-second postponement of the game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. At first, it was unknown why the game was suddenly being called off, but as time went by, more facts began to emerge.
First, a day prior to tipoff, Rudy Gobert popped up as questionable on the Jazz injury report due to an illness a day after purposefully touching every microphone following an interview with media seemingly as a joke about COVID-19; better known as the coronavirus. That incident then evolved from Gobert trying to be light-hearted in the face of a rapidly-spreading pandemic into one of the most perplexing decisions made by a professional athlete. On Wednesday night, just one minute after Wojnarowski reported the NBA season had been suspended, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Gobert had a positive COVID-19 test.
So with that news, Gobert became the first NBA player to get the coronavirus and that fact led to the National Basketball Association to go on a voluntary hiatus for an indefinite amount of time.
Following Gobert’s diagnosis and the news that the league was going to suspend play, there were still two games left to play and both were eventually canceled. Obviously, the Jazz versus Thunder game was canceled, but so was the matchup in Sacramento between the Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans. That game would have been officiated by Courtney Kirkland, who was the referee days earlier for a Jazz game. Because of that reality, potentially the last NBA game of the 2019-20 season was cancelled.
So what does this mean for the Nuggets, who are currently in the midst of one of their best seasons in franchise history? When will games be played again? Will the rest of the regular season be played or will the league skip straight to the playoffs? Will there even be any playoffs? All of those questions share two things: they are valid questions and they are currently without answers.
All that is certain is that the NBA is doing the right thing by suspending play. The safety of the fans, athletes, coaches, front office staff, media and everyone else in the communities hosting these games must be, and is being, prioritized. Because of that decision, there will be a better chance of containing the virus.
Everyone is dealing with the ramifications of this virus in real time and no one has been able to fully grasp the impact that COVID-19 is having on the world. At this point, all anyone can do is wait and see what happens.