The unprecedented announcement came with 4:13 left in the Miami Heat’s 109-98 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The Heat and Hornets were in a timeout as Miami tried to rally from a late double-digit deficit, and the NBA sent out a press release stunning the world.
Coronavirus has come to the NBA. The NBA is heading on hiatus.
David Wilson and Anthony Chiang, the Heat beat writer for the Miami Herald, were both at AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday when the edict came down from commissioner Adam Silver. It made for a surreal night — one of the strangest in NBA history — and Wilson and Chiang recap it on the newest episode of the Heat Check podcast.
“I thought the first trigger would be potentially playing games without fans,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game Wednesday. “It just seemed like every single day there was a new development and that’s why, even before the game, I just said I was taking a step back just to monitor and wait for word from the league.”
The league never had the opportunity to move to games in empty arenas. The Golden State Warriors had planned to play the Brooklyn Nets in an empty Chase Center on Thursday before the situation spiraled Wednesday. Not long before the NBA put its season on indefinite hiatus, the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder abruptly canceled their game in Oklahoma City just seconds before tipoff. All-Star center Rudy Gobert was battling an illness. The Jazz later announced he was diagnosed with coronavirus and All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell tested positive the next day.
Where does the league go from here? Wilson and Chiang talk through all the potential options the NBA has in front of it, and the complications the league now has to deal with in the coming weeks while it remains on hiatus.