The Life Without NBA Basketball Due to Coronavirus Diary: Day 2

The 2019-20 NBA season was suspended on Wednesday, March 11 due to the increasing threat of novel coronavirus. In this diary, we reflect on what’s happened with daily entries as we wait for basketball to return.

Happy Friday the 13th, everybody.

March 11, 2020, was a day that will live in infamy for quite some time. After Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for novel coronavirus, the NBA had no choice but to suspend its season until the threat of this pandemic is under control.

Unfortunately, March 12, 2020 wasn’t much kinder to the sports and entertainment world. While we hate to bask in negativity, the gravity of this situation is more clear than ever after a simple look at everything that happened on Thursday.

Since our first entry in this running diary:

It’s enough to make your head spin as you curl up under the covers in hand sanitizer-soaked bedsheets. All these leagues being suspended and movies being pushed back is for the best, but there’s no denying the unfortunate nature of our new reality, where the sports and entertainment we often turn to as an escape are no longer there to distract us.

That becomes even more difficult to process as companies encourage their employees to work from home, schools shut down and that cute girl on Hinge won’t text you back (yep, coronavirus is definitely the reason there. I’m sure of it).

In the NBA sphere, Thursday was a difficult day to process. Most fans are still reeling from the news that we wont have basketball for at least a month (just check in with Devin Booker for a live look). With the league’s second player, Donovan Mitchell, testing positive for coronavirus, it was hard not to feel a twinge of anger and disappointment toward his Gobert, who not very long ago made a costly joke of the whole situation and was reportedly careless about underestimating this illness.

On the one hand, I get it; this situation escalated quickly, and the effects of COVID-19 are comparatively mild for most people. Those who are older or have pre-existing medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) have been more susceptible to becoming severely ill, but a 27-year-old seven-footer who makes a living running up and down a court obviously isn’t in that bracket, and therefore wouldn’t trouble himself even if he caught sick.

With that being said, even if coronavirus isn’t a life-threatening disease to him and many others … does that make it okay to make jokes about a disease that’s seen over 125,000 cases and 4,600 deaths worldwide? And even worse, does that suddenly let him off the hook for spreading it to his teammates and putting Jazz players, staff, reporters and fans at risk, just because he “didn’t grasp the severity of the situation”?

Not everyone is paid like a member of the Utah Jazz, nor are they in tip-top shape like a professional basketball player. That kind of callous, immature behavior risks continuing the spread of an illness that may not be dangerous to him or you or I, but could eventually reach someone else for whom it proves life-threatening.

Upon learning his own teammate had been infected and understanding the depth of his mistake, Gobert did the right thing and publicly apologized on Instagram (which low-key may have been for his teammate, given that Mitchell’s own Instagram post earlier in the morning said, “Hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and the well being of those around them”).

Gobert’s actions don’t make him a bad person by any means, but they were still incredibly dumb and yes, he deserves to catch heat for them.

Thankfully, Mitchell was the only one out of 58 Jazz players/personnel who tested positive. But the league is now in lockdown mode. The Boston Celtics are set to be tested for COVID-19 next, and with team physicians being mandated to check in with each player at least once a day from now through March 16, the Jazz stars may not be the last cases we hear of in the NBA.

To avoid dwelling on those troubling thoughts, the natural thing to do is to wonder how long this suspension might last and how the NBA will adjust its schedule accordingly. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban speculated that games could extend as late as August this year, which would have majorly inconvenient implications for the NBA Draft, free agency, Summer League, the Summer Olympics and the start of next season.

That’s just one man’s speculation of course, but the coronavirus situation isn’t going anywhere, and might not be for months. The playoffs normally start in mid-April, with the NBA Finals wrapping up in mid-June at the latest. The league has options moving forward, including just ending the regular season and immediately starting the playoffs as the teams are currently seeded once games are back in action. The NBA could also have a truncated finish to the regular season, with 7-8 games to shake the rust off before diving into a shortened first round.

In any case, there’s not much else we can do as sports fans but sit back and brace for the next piece of news about a player, coach or staffer who works in the league. Hopefully shutting down play stopped the potential spread of COVID-19 before it ran rampant through a close-contact sports league, but less than 48 hours into our first confirmed case in the NBA, every major sports organization and March Madness have all been shut down.

As fans, that puts us in a terrible spot, with only TV binges, movie nights and video games to keep us company while the nation moves closer to full-on self-isolation. As a writer and a sports fan, that leaves me in a particularly tough place. How do we provide quality content for our readers without exploiting a sensitive, serious situation? How do we cover the relevant breaking news pertinent to the situation when you and I and everyone else can already feel the over-saturation with every new coronavirus story?

This daily diary is an attempt to bridge the gap between providing necessary coverage to the NBA’s current situation and navigating through our universally shared sense of dread about not having basketball — or any sport — in our lives for the foreseeable future. If you’re not interested in tuning in for my daily recap of what’s going on with the situation and my random racing thoughts, I won’t hold it against you. If you don’t particularly care what Nintendo Switch games I’m recommending as an avid gamer during this time of boredom, I won’t blame you for not clicking.

But hopefully over these next few weeks, in covering the latest developments with coronavirus, venting about its impact on our beloved NBA and still attempting to recognize this is a lot bigger than sports in general, hopefully we can find some clarity together as we try to pass the time. Now, more than ever, we’ve just gotta take it day by day.

Hopefully Friday the 13th gives us the ironic restart 2020 badly needs.

Next: Life Without NBA Basketball Due to Coronavirus Diary – Day 1

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.

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