Two weeks have passed since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, which prompted the NBA to suspend its season indefinitely. Matters have worsened since that Wednesday night, as additional NBA players and personnel have tested positive as well.
Upon the Brooklyn Nets announcing four of its players contracted the virus, the Los Angeles Lakers made tests available to their entire roster. Of the 14 players who took advantage of the opportunity, two turned up positive.
The team (prohibited by the Health Information Privacy act), nor the players themselves have revealed their identities. And with the NBA requiring practice facilities to be closed, players have essentially been thrown into isolation.
It’s a far cry from usual circumstances during an NBA season, as players tend to spend more time with teammates and coaches than respective families. During an appearance on the “Road Trippin’ Podcast,” LeBron James explained how the Lakers have maintained contact, as transcribed by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“We got a text chain between all the guys on the team. And we just stay in touch every day, pretty much. Random s—. It could be something that’s on the internet, guys send a clip. … To Laker Nation: the guys are staying connected. Everybody knows where everyone is. We know what’s going on.”
James also reiterated what importance he believes fans hold within the sport:
“What is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’?” James asked. “There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth. There’s no rhyme or reason that you want to go on the road and just dethrone the home team because of their fans and vice versa.
“Like, that’s what also brings out the competitive side of the players to know that you’re going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you’re playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans’ ass too.
Prior to the NBA initially ruling games were to be played without fans in attendance, James emphatically explained why that was something he would not do. Upon learning it was a real possibility, he walked back that remark and acknowledged he would continue playing in an empty arena if safety measures dictated as much.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has not yet indicated when play may resume, but in the meantime he indicated the league is mulling a possible charity game.