Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert, during a November 2019 game in Memphis. Photo: Warren Roseborough)

Earlier on Wednesday, I’d spoken on both WLOK and Sports56 about how the NBA was responding to the coronavirus threat. I’d spoken about my GritGrindGrizz column of the week, which explored the question of whether Tuesday’s Grizzlies’ game was the last of the season with fans in the arena. News agencies were reporting the NBA considering that as a hopeful worst-case scenario.

Lee Eric Smith

But the game literally changed on Wednesday night. With the Utah Jazz in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder, the NBA learned that Jazz C Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus. The NBA immediately suspended all games indefinitely after Wednesday night games – leaving the Denver-Dallas game in progress and a subsequent Sacramento-New Orleans game as a sudden potential finale to the NBA season.

As my editor and I discussed how to adjust my column for the breaking news, we agreed the story was moving too fast to change my suddenly obsolete column. How fast? I’d chosen to tune into ESPN to watch those games specifically because it might be my last basketball for a while. But even that ended sooner than I thought, when the NBA learned that a referee for the Kings-Pelicans game had been exposed to Gobert earlier in the week. Game canceled, season essentially over by 9:30 p.m.


Donovan Mitchell did not have coronavirus when the Jazz played the Grizzlies in Memphis in Nov. 2019. But this image shows how close these players are in games. Photo: Warren Roseborough)

How fast is the story moving? We just learned today that Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive for the coronavirus. As that news was breaking, we learned Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee had declared a state of emergency. Who knows where this crisis will be by the time I finish writing this post.

Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley share a pregame fist bump during a pre-COVID-19 game in Memphis back in Nov. 2019. Photo: Warren Roseborough)

I must note that with two of his teammates now confirmed, Grizzlies fans have to be concerned about The Conductor, Mike Conley, now with the Jazz. No word yet on his status, though he is certainly at risk and being tested.

As for the Grizzlies, I’m working to get updates on their status. They were set to play in Portland tonight, but no word yet on when they will return to Memphis, or what the protocols will be when they do.

We do have this brief statement from the team:

We fully respect and support the NBA’s decision to suspend all games in light of the impact of COVID-19. Measures taken to protect the health of our players, staff and fans are the correct ones.

For all ticket buyers and fans, we are working through information as we receive it and will provide updates as soon as we have them available. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this together.

But the following tweets from Ja Morant and Justise Winslow probably sum up how we’re all feeling as this crisis unfolds: