While the Mavericks hosted the Nuggets in Dallas, the Thunder were set to tipoff against the Jazz in Oklahoma City. What was expected to be the last normal night in the NBA for some time, with the anticipation of an announcement that games would be played without fans starting Thursday, was anything but when officials called off Jazz-Thunder suddenly before tipoff.
Shortly after, we learned that Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19, and as such both teams were quarantined inside Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC. The league, left with no choice, announced the season would be suspended indefinitely, and the news spread quickly around the basketball world. That included Mavs owner Mark Cuban who was courtside, looking at his phone when the news popped up and his stunned reaction was captured by the ESPN cameras.
Surreal moment as Mark Cuban learns that the NBA is on hiatus… during a game. pic.twitter.com/U9L1LVdGnE
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) March 12, 2020
Cuban quickly went over to the Mavs bench and alerted them to the news, which had to create a surreal environment to play the last quarter-plus of basketball. It is rather incredible that they are continuing to play games, particularly the Pelicans-Kings game in Sacramento which had not even tipped when the announcement of suspending the season was made. The reaction of Cuban was surely similar to many, and the overall reaction to the situation around the league has been that of shock and sadness.
ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi interviewed Cuban shortly after, who expressed his concern for the arena workers that would be out of work due to the suspension of play and noted he would start a program to take care of them.
Mark Cuban says he's going to put a program in place to take care of Mavericks concession workers and others making hourly pay who will lose work time due to NBA coronavirus shutdown pic.twitter.com/hbCWnMI8H5
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 12, 2020
The league can recover, but for those that require the paycheck from working games to make rent and get food, this would be debilitating if other owners don’t step up to do the same in their cities.