- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2020

One day after his positive test for the coronavirus convinced the NBA to suspend its season, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert offered an apology Thursday for making light of the global health crisis earlier this week.

“I was careless and make no excuse,” the 27-year-old Frenchman said on Instagram. “I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.”

Gobert’s expression of contrition came as basketball players and fans around the world struggled to come to grips with the impact of the spreading outbreak, and as the NBA announced a second player, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, had also tested positive.

A number of teams, including the Wizards, announced they will self-quarantine due to playing the Jazz within the last few weeks. Washington will do so between three and four days given it faced Utah on Feb. 29. Symptoms of coronavirus may appear between the first two and 14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.

“The decision was made with an abundance of caution due to the team’s recent game schedule, which saw them play at Utah on Feb. 29 and against New York (who played Utah on Mar. 4) on Mar. 10,” the Wizards said. “Players, coaches and basketball operations staff who exhibit or develop flu-like symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.”

NBA owners, meanwhile, encouraged commissioner Adam Silver to reevaluate the league’s suspension in 30 days, ESPN reported.

Earlier Thursday morning, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN’s “Get Up” he expects games to resume at some point this year, floating a 60-day hiatus and resuming by only playing the last seven to 10 games of the regular season before beginning the playoffs. Cuban said he could see the season lasting into July or August, normally a dead time for the NBA.

On Wednesday, Cuban said he would also work on a program to provide financial assistance to arena workers, who rely on hourly wages, affected by the NBA’s shutdown. The NBA has not said if players will still receive paychecks during the hiatus. Elsewhere, players continued to react to the news.

After the Atlanta Hawks’ loss Wednesday to the Knicks, 43-year-old Vince Carter, who will retire at the end of the year, was emotional at the thought he could have played his last game in the NBA.

Lakers star LeBron James and Stephen Curry tweeted messages for fans, while also taking issue with the year as a whole. Last month, the NBA mourned as former Laker star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others died in a helicopter crash in California.

“Man we canceling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020!” James tweeted. “It’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe.”

“2020 aint it,” Curry tweeted. “Don’t know what to compare this situation to … just gotta buckle up and take care of yourself and those around you. Basketball will be back at some point but right now, protect yourself and stay safe out there!”

On Instagram, Mitchell said he hoped that people would “behave responsibly” for the sake of their health.

After the cancellation of Wednesday’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Jazz, health officials administered 58 coronavirus tests at the arena — and only Mitchell tested positive.

For now, no one knows when the NBA will start up again.

“We have to be smart in how we respond,” Cuban told reporters. “This is people’s lives at stakes. This isn’t about basketball. … This isn’t about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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