Fans of the Utah Jazz have been clamoring for more national media recognition. On Wednesday night, they got their wish — for all the wrong reasons, though.
On Wednesday evening at Chesapeake Bay Arena, the Utah Jazz were scheduled to go toe-to-toe with the Oklahoma City Thunder. More than most mid-March NBA contests, major implications were at stake in this one: the Thunder sat a single game back of the Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference — cut and dry, home-court advantage in the playoffs was up for grabs.
Furthermore, the much-anticipated matchup between the two surging, small-market squads was made all the more intriguing by a few key, on-court clashes that would soon take place …
- Donovan Mitchell vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: young NBA superstars.
- Mike Conley vs. Chris Paul: aging point guards with something to prove.
- Bojan Bogdanović vs. Danilo Gallinari: pasty white shooters from Europe.
- Jordan Clarkson vs. Dennis Schröder: two dudes up for Sixth Man of the Year.
- Rudy Gobert vs. Steven Adams: traditional big men in a league of stretch fives.
Not so fast — it would’ve been, except Gobert wasn’t quite feeling himself …
What’s most interesting (frustrating, really) about the above tweet is the timestamp in the bottom, left-hand corner: 10:24 am on March 11, 2020 — in other words, this message was broadcast to the entirety of the basketball world an impressive seven hours and 36 minutes before tipoff.
So what was The Stifle Tower up to during that time, you ask?
Well, if an official statement from the Jazz is any indication:
- Rudy coughed — lots of it.
- Rudy failed an influenza test.
- Rudy failed a strep throat test.
- Rudy failed an upper respiratory infection test.
- And my personal favorite, Rudy boarded a plane for Oklahoma City.
I’m no doctor — heck, I haven’t even played one on television …
But what I do know is that supply chains in China have shut down, Italians are masking coughing fits in hospitals so as to not lose access to oxygen, the stock market is in a complete tailspin and the world’s stress levels are through the roof — all this because of the coronavirus …
You know, that thing that resembles influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection.
In defense of the Utah Jazz’s medical staff, they did (miraculously) administer a COVID-19 test to Gobert the day the team was scheduled to play the Thunder. What’s unforgivable, however, is that — under any kind of suspicion that he might test positive — he traveled with the team.
Sure, the awkwardness of a delayed game and panic-stricken broadcasters fumbling over their words would certainly classify as “cringeworthy.” But the Jazz’s lack of forward-thinking put thousands of fans, media members, team personnel and NBA players directly in harm’s way.
Things could’ve gotten worse, and lo and behold …
Nevermind Gobert’s feeling up of a bunch of reporters’ smartphones — to date, we’ve all made coronavirus jokes, and if you claim you haven’t, you’re either lying or not very good at Twitter.
What’s most concerning, though, is that an organization like the Utah Jazz’s — one that’s built a tried-and-true, decades-long reputation for itself as a smart, responsible and well-run franchise — could get the coronavirus oh-so very wrong in so many different ways …
For more information about the coronavirus and COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.