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NBA season suspended after Utah Jazz player tests positive for coronavirus

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The NBA suspended its season "until further notice" after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus, the league announced in a statement Wednesday. The test result was reported before the cancellation of Wednesday night's game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder

The player wasn't at the game at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena, the league said.

"The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic," the statement said.

Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, identified the player as Rudy Gobert. The Jazz did not identify Gobert in its statement but said the player was in the care of Oklahoma City health officials.

In a tweet, Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier said he spoke with Gobert over the phone on Wednesday night. "Was just on the phone with Rudy. He is doing good, man. Let's not panic everyone. Love you all," Fournier wrote.

Gobert posted about his illness on Instagram Thursday, writing, "I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. ... 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."

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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.

A post shared by Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) on

Gobert also apologized for a viral video in which he jokingly touched reporters' microphones two days before he was diagnosed.

"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," he wrote.

The Jazz said he was tested for coronavirus after other tests for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection came back negative. 

"The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions," the statement said.

Several fans said they were initially confused when officials announced that the game was canceled. Others understood why the decision was made. 

"It's completely understandable. The players' safety is of the utmost importance. I can't be upset over them canceling the game like that. This is a severe crisis," Hayden McCabe told CBS affiliate KWTV.

The game between the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets was underway when the league said the season would be suspended. That game, however, was allowed to finish.

"This is people's lives at stake. This isn't about basketball," Mavs owner Mark Cuban told reporters after his team's win. "This is a global pandemic."

"I'm a lot more worried about my kids, my mom is 82 years old and talking to her, and telling her to stay in the house, than I am about when we play our next game," he said.

Atlanta Hawks veteran Vince Carter, who was playing in his 22nd and final season, recognized that he may have played in the final game of his career. "It's a weird way to say I'm calling it a career, Carter said. Basketball has been good to me. I've enjoyed each and every moment of it, good and bad. If this is it, it's all good. At least I made my last basket."

Several players, including LeBron James, reacted to the news on Twitter.

The NBA's announcement comes as officials grapple with the outbreak across the country, where more than 1,000 confirmed cases have been reported. Earlier Wednesday, the NCAA said fans would not be allowed to attend the upcoming men and women's basketball tournaments.

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