NBA suspends season; March Madness going without fans
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UPDATE: NHL suspends its season due to COVID-19
By Jimmy Golen and Jay Cohen
The NBA became the first major American sports league to suspend play because of the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions Wednesday night about the future of college basketball’s March Madness and other pro sports.
On Thursday, the NHL also suspended its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It looked as if the NBA might be moving toward playing in empty arenas before it announced that a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus and it had decided to pause its season after Wednesday’s games.
A person with knowledge of the situation said the Jazz player who tested positive was centre Rudy Gobert. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the team confirmed the presumptive positive test.
“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league said in a statement.
The test result, the NBA said, was reported shortly before the Utah at Oklahoma City game was called off. New Orleans at Sacramento also was postponed after the announcement.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said earlier in the day that only essential staff and limited family will be allowed to attend the upcoming NCAA basketball tournaments, draining the signature school spirit from one of the biggest events on the sports calendar.
But the organization could reassess its plans in the wake of the NBA’s decision.