Coronavirus: Infected Jazz star Rudy Gobert issues apology ‘to the people that I have endangered’

The growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak reached a tipping point in the NBA Wednesday night. The league announced it has suspended the season after the matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz was abruptly cancelled as a result of Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic. On Thursday, Gobert issued a public apology on Instagram for being “careless:”

I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.

The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus.

I am under great care and will fully recover. Thank you again for all your support. I encourage everyone to take all of the steps to stay safe and healthy. Love.  

In addition, Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell also confirmed on Thursday that he also tested positive for the virus. Gobert was reportedly “careless” in the locker room and touched teammates and their belongings, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Mitchell was the only member of the Jazz other than Gobert to test positive for the coronavirus Wednesday night, per Charania. 

“We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials, and the NBA to monitor their health and determine the best path moving forward,” the Jazz said in an issued statement.

Players from the Thunder were reportedly not tested for coronavirus and allowed to leave the building, but the Jazz are currently being quarantined inside of the Chesapeake Energy Arena. A group of people recently arrived to presumably test the players, per Royce Young of ESPN, and the Jazz are expected to stay at the arena while the tests are processed. 

The league has told teams that have played Utah in the last 10 days should self-quarantine. Utah’s opponents since March 2 include the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.

It’s worth noting that prior to the game, the Jazz announced that Gobert and Emmanuel Mudiay were ruled out of the game due to illness. Gobert was not at the arena, but rather the team hotel in Oklahoma City for the game, according to Young.

Reporters covering both teams were also affected. Both Jones and Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune indicated that they were not allowed to leave, and required to be tested for the virus.   

Earlier in the week, Gobert was spotted touching the microphones and audio recorders on the podium during his media session.

Just prior to tip-off on Wednesday, a Thunder medical staffer “sprinted” onto the floor to meet with officials, according to Young. After a brief consultation, coaches Quin Snyder and Billy Donovan were brought over and both teams then made their way back to their locker rooms. 

As the teams walked off the court, the referees then got on the headset with the league, and after a brief discussion, they too left. That then led to an eerie delay that included the Thunder mascot shooting halfcourt shots, children performing dance routines and Frankie J giving a mini-concert that was initially scheduled for halftime. 

After about 30 minutes, the Thunder PA announcer told fans that the game was off “due to unforeseen circumstances” and that fans “are all safe.” 

The Jazz-Thunder game was the first of two games cancelled on Wednesday. The Pelicans-Kings matchup, the last of the night before the league halted its play due to coronavirus concerns.

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