Thunder Basketball

Thunder game postponed, Jazz player tests positive for Coronavirus

Thunder game postponed, Jazz player tests positive for Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY- The energy inside the arena shifted over the course of minutes.

With fears of the Coronavirus fresh on the minds of the nation, any small delay would inevitably be magnified.

Fears became reality over the course of two hours in Oklahoma City.

The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder were primed for a Western Conference battle laden with playoff implications. 

After player introductions but before tip-off, the referees called both coaches to center court for a discussion. Minutes later, both teams were ushered back to their respective locker rooms, and it was announced over the arena loudspeaker that the game had been delayed pending “league confirmation”.

Here is my timeline of how the night panned out:

7:12 p.m.: Coaches and referees conference at mid-court

Tip-off between the Thunder and the Jazz was delayed by a conversation between Jazz coach Quin Snyder, Thunder coach Billy Donovan and the officials. After a few minutes, both teams returned to their locker rooms.


7:37 p.m.: Game officially postponed

After almost a half hour delay, it was again announced over the arena loudspeaker that the game would be postponed. 

During the initial delay, the Thunder rolled out their halftime performers as well as the “Storm chasers”, Oklahoma City’s in arena “hype crew”, to keep the fans entertained.

The announcement was met with frustration by the Oklahoma City crowd, with groans and boos raining down from the stands. 

Fans were encouraged to leave the arena, but were not rushed out or anything of the sort. 

An orderly evacuation occurred, and most of the fans had left the main arena area within approximately 25 minutes.

Both teams were restricted to their locker rooms until further notice.


8:27 p.m.: First confirmation of Coronavirus

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium said Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel Coronavirus in a statement on Twitter. 

Charania’s statement was the first confirmation of any test results, as no information had been disseminated at that time in the arena.


8:31 p.m.: NBA season suspended

Moments later, Charania announced the NBA season has been suspended, again in a statement on Twitter. 

Again, no information had been distributed in the arena at that point. 

Simultaneously, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN announced the same news on Twitter. 


8:33 p.m.: Official league release

Fred Katz of The Athletic passed the NBA’s official press release in a statement on Twitter. 

Per the release, it appeared Gobert was in Oklahoma City, OK., but had not stepped foot in the Chesapeake Energy Arena. 


Around 8:50 p.m.: Confirmation Gobert not in the arena

Shortly after the league’s statement, I was able to independently verify with a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder communications staff that Gobert had not in fact entered the arena. 


9:23 p.m.: Utah Jazz release a statement

The Jazz shed some light on the situation almost two hours after the game was postponed. 

“A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off,” the release said. 

Gobert is still in the hands of health professionals in Oklahoma City the release went on to say. 


10:20 p.m.: Thunder players released

A member of the Thunder Communications team confirmed Oklahoma City’s players have been released and were permitted to head home. 

At this point, the Utah Jazz are still being confined to the Chesapeake Energy Arena. 


This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 



Thunder Basketball

Ryan Chapman is a journalism student at OCCC. Chapman has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Oklahoma City Energy, and Oklahoma Sooners athletics. Chapman is also the co-host of the Sideline Warning Podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. Chapman has also served as the editor for the OCCC Pioneer.

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